Collection: NEW YORK RENS

The New York Rens were the first Black-owned, all-Black, fully professional basketball team in history, formed in Harlem in October 1923. That year, basketball manager Robert “Bob” Douglas made a deal with Harlem real estate developer William Roach, the owner of the Renaissance Casino, a newly opened ballroom.

Name: New York Rens
Location: Harlem, New York City Home Court: Renaissance Casino Nickname: “Renaissance Big Five”, “Harlem Rens”, “Big R Five” Colors: Navy, Gold Manager: Robert “Bob” Douglas

In 1939, the New York Rens won the inaugural World Championship of Professional Basketball, an invitation-only tourney with a field made up of America’s twelve best pro hoops teams. The title game saw the Rens defeating the Oshkosh All-Stars. Oshkosh had been the champion of the National Basketball League, a Whites-only league.

The 1948-49 Dayton Rens; l. to r. Bob “Longie” Powell, George Crowe, William “Pop” Gates, Robert “Sonny” Wood, Lenny Ford, Tom Sealy, William “Dolly” King, Jim Usry. (The Black Fives Foundation)