Today I want to give a history lesson and being Black History Month and all, I feel obligated. So, on February 5, 1972, Mr. Robert Douglas was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The first African American to do so. As we all know, he was followed by several. But being the first is a big deal. Douglas was the founder of the 1939 World Champion New York Renaissance. Douglas is know as the “father of black basketball” and made the “Rens” as they were known a house hold name in the barnstorming era of basketball. Fans would fill auditoriums to root against them, often insult them and sometimes spit on them.
The Rens had a killer squad with Charles “Tarzan” Cooper, “Wee” Willie Smith, Clarence “Fats” Jenkins, Bill Yancey and Eyre “Bruiser” Saitch, John Holt and James “Pappy” Ricks. They were the first salaried black basketball team making a staggering $800 to $1000 a month. Back in those days this was a huge salary. Bread was a nickel and rent on an apartment was $60. Wow.
Take today to honor Mr. Robert Douglas, the father of black basketball. Helping his players do what they love and get paid while doing it.