Did You Know This Was the First All Black Basketball Team & They Beat the Original Celtics?


The aim here is to throw some light on the first all black basketball team established in the United States by Robert “Bob” Douglas. It was initially named the Spartan braves. The team eventually had numerous achievements during their 25 years run.

The New York Rens also knows as Rens, Big R five and New York Renaissance was the first basketball team of all-black professionals. There were established by Robert “Bob” Douglas on February 13, 1923. Bob did not have a home court for his team and the Renaissance ballroom became the home court.

This is the origin of the basketball team’s name, the New York Rens. It was also a great play to help publicize the New York Ballroom.

The Rens became the powerful team of 1920-30’s. The first game was played on November 3, 1923 against an all white team. The Rens went on to claimed the world championship by defeating Original Celtics on December 20, 1925.

By 1924-25 Rens had won many of the world colored championships and henceforth dominated the basketball world for the next 25 years. During the 1932-33 season Rens set up a record of winning 88 consecutive games not broken by any professional basketball team. They won the World Professional Basketball tournament in 1939 defeating the Oshkosh All Stars. Despite all the discrimination they faced during the play they won a total of 2000 games setting up various records during their run.

Some of the team members were Eyre Saitch, Clarens “Fats” Jenkins, Charles “Tarzan” Cooper, Wee Willey Smith and Bill Yancey. Three Rens players have been individually enshrined namely John “Boy Wonder” Isaacs, William “Pop” Gates and Charles “Tarzan” Cooper. The team of 1933 Rens was enshrined in Naismith Hall of Fame. Bell and Clayton are enshrined in the New York city and the Philadelphia Hall of Fame. Gates and Cooper were the central attraction of the game and Isaac acted as leader and glue for the team.

The Rens was disbanded in 1949 after competing in the National Basketball League.