William “Pop” Gates Inducted in 1990

Player Inducted in 1990
Pop Gates William “Pop” Gates, Inducted into the NYC Hall of Fame in 1990
Photo credit: (Pro Basketball Encyclopedia)
William Penn "PopGates (August 30, 1917 – December 1, 1999) was born in Decatur, Alabama, and attended  Franklin High School in NYC. During high school studies, he earned All-Conference honors in both 1937 and 1938 and made the All-City first team in 1938, as well as won three All-City titles with YMCA teams.

Gates started his professional basketball career with the New York Renaissance, beginning in 1938–39. "Seven months before Jackie Robinson made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Leo Ferris helped usher in a new era of racial integration for professional basketball when he signed Pop Gates, who made his debut for the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in October 1946. Gates, along with William "Dolly" King, were the first two African-American players in the National Basketball League (NBL) in 1946. "When Leo Ferris came to me, it was like a godsend", Gates was quoted as saying in the book "Pioneers of the Hardwood: Indiana and the Birth of Professional Basketball." "It was a real highlight of my career to be accepted by the NBL as one of only two blacks in the league."

Later Gates played for and coached the Harlem Globetrotters. He is one of the few athletes who went directly from a high school championship team (Benjamin Franklin, New York, 1938) to a world professional champion (New York Rens, 1939). Gates was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1989.