The N.Y. Renaissance Inducted in 1996

Team Inducted in 1996
The New York Renaissance The N.Y. Renaissance, Inducted into the NYC Hall of Fame in 1996
Photo credit: (Black
The New York Renaissance, also known as the Renaissance Big R Five and as the Rens, was the first black-owned, all-black professional basketball team established in October 1923, by Robert "Bob" Douglas. They were named after the Renaissance Casino and Ballroom located at 138th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem was an entertainment complex that included a ballroom, which served as the Rens' home court. The team eventually had its own house orchestra and games were often followed by a dance. The Rens played mostly in Harlem but started barnstorming across the country for more lucrative payouts.

During the 1932-33 regular season, the Rens compiled a record of 120-8 (six of those losses came at the hands of the Celtics, whom the Rens did beat eight times). During that season, the Rens won 88 consecutive games, a mark that has never been matched by a professional basketball team. In 1939, the Rens won the first professional basketball championship, when they beat the Oshkosh All-Stars, a white team, 34-25, in the World Professional Basketball Tournament in Chicago. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted the 1932-33 New York Renaissance team collectively in 1963 in recognition of their 88-game winning streak.

The team compiled a 2588-529 record from 1923 to 1948. Important players on the Rens roster included Clarence "Fats" Jenkins, Pappy Ricks, Eyre Saitch, Bill Yancey, "Wee" Willie Smith, Charles "Tarzan" Cooper, Zack Clayton, John Isaacs, Dolly King, Pop Gates, and Nat Clifton. In 1936, the Renaissance became the first top-level team to sign a four-year African-American college star, David "Big Dave" DeJernett of Indiana Central.