For The Conversation, Jared Bahir Browsh discussed the history of black-owned basketball franchises and how the small number (1) has dwindled to nothing, with Michael Jordan’s sale of his majority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats in July. He also profiled Bob Douglas, a Black business owner who brought us one of biggest pre-NBA basketball franchises, the Harlem Renaissance, or the “Rens”.
Douglas helped found the Spartan Field Club in 1908 to support his and other Black New Yorkers’ interest in playing sports. These clubs provided facilities and organized amateur teams across a number of sports, with cricket and basketball being among the most popular.
Douglas had fallen in love with basketball after first playing in 1905, only a few years after he had immigrated to New York from St. Kitts. Despite encountering discrimination as a Black man and immigrant, he founded and played for an adult amateur basketball team within the club named the Spartan Braves. He transitioned to managing the club in 1918.
Douglas was searching for a permanent home for his team and offered to rename the Spartan Braves the Harlem Renaissance in exchange for the use of the Black-owned Renaissance Ballroom & Casino on Seventh Avenue between 137th and 138th streets. The team played its first game as the Renaissance on Nov. 3, 1923, with Douglas signing his players to full-season contracts.via The Conversation