Bob Douglas, the Father of Black Basketball


Robert "Bob" Douglas
Date: 
Sat, 1882-11-04

*Bob Douglas was born on this date in 1882. He was an African American athlete, coach and administrator.

Born in Saint Kitts, British West Indies, in 1923 Robert L. "Bob" Douglas founded the New York Renaissance (Rens) basketball team. Douglas owned and coached the Rens from 1923 to 1949, guiding them to a 2,318-381 record (.859). The Renaissance barnstormed throughout the United States, mostly in the Midwest, and played any team that would schedule them, Black or White.

Traveling as far as 200 miles for a game, they often slept on the bus and ate cold meals; they were barred from many hotels and restaurants by Jim Crow Segregation laws and norms of racial discrimination which prevailed in the northern United States at the time.

Though racial discrimination was severe, Douglas kept his team focused. Despite these obstacles, the Rens became a dominant team, winning over 2,500 games. Douglas' astute eye for basketball talent led him to such greats as Charles "Tarzan" Cooper and Wee Willie Smith. Through Douglas's leadership, the Rens were virtually unbeatable, winning 88 straight games in 1932-33.

In the twenties and early thirties, their matches with the Original Celtics were basketball's greatest gate attraction. At the World Professional Basketball Tournament they won in 1939, lost to the eventual champion Harlem Globetrotters in 1940, and finished second to the National Basketball League champion Minneapolis Lakers in 1948.

He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 1972, the first African American enshrined. Nicknamed the "Father of Black Professional Basketball", Bob Douglas died on July 16, 1979.

Reference:
New York Rens

Naismith Hall of Fame

To become a Coach

Person / name: 

Douglas, Bob