NEW YORK (AP) — Just a few years after the invention of basketball, black players in segregated America formed leagues of their own. Eventually they created a barnstorming circuit featuring such teams as the New York Renaissance and the Harlem Globetrotters.
Dozens of teams flourished between 1904 and 1950 in what became known as the Black Fives Era. It's an often-overlooked piece of black history that is the subject of an exhibition opening March 14 at the New-York Historical Society.
The exhibition features 150 artifacts on loan from Greenwich (GREN'-ich), Conn.-based Black Fives Foundation, including newspaper clippings, programs and vintage photographs of the period's pioneers.
Among the more intriguing items is a pair of leather-and-sheepskin kneepads. They were used to protect players from rough play and protruding nails, splinters and uneven planking of early basketball floors.