Black Fives Era Legend Zack Clayton Gets His Hall Of Fame Nod

    The Black Fives represents an era of basketball in the United States that pre-date the current era by over 100 years.  

    Spanning from 1904 to 1950, when the NBA became integrated, the Black Fives, also known as the colored quints, colored fives, and Negro fives, had franchises in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Cleveland, as well as smaller locales like Newark, Baltimore and Atlantic City in the years to come. They were sponsored by local social clubs, athletic clubs, churches, newspaper branches and private citizens.  

    Edwin Henderson was a gym teacher credited with introducing the game to the African-American community of Washington, D.C. in the winter of 1904 via physical education classes in the citys segregated public school system.  

    Kyrie Irving Honors Black Fives Era Pioneer Zachariah “Zack” Clayton (2014)

    NBA players pair up with Black Fives Era pioneers in this collaboration between Fox Sports Net and the Black Fives Foundation for the network’s Original Pioneers campaign. We provided the vintage images and the historical details. Fox Sports Net captured the footage of players’ comments and broadcasted the segments in its NBA affiliate markets during Black History Month 2014.

    According to legend, Hendersons goal was to create outstanding student-athletes with the singular purpose of sending them to prestigious northern, white institutions to debunk negative racial stereotypes disparaging black intelligence and leadership, believing that sports was the best hope for a fair shot Black Americans had at the time.  

    All-Black basketball teams began to emerge in Washington, DC and New York City, simultaneously. The Smart Set Athletic Club of Brooklyn is widely recognized as the first independent African-American basketball team in history, winning the Colored Basketball World Championships by consensus of black sportswriters for the 1907-08 season.

    The first professional, pay-for-play, black squad was the New York All-Stars.

    To many, point guard Zack Clayton was the best player of that bygone era. On Friday, he will join his peers when posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  Starring for the New York Rens, the Washington Bears and the Harlem Globetrotters in a career that spanned the 1930’s and ’40s, Clayton was inducted into the Philadelphia Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989.  

    He won Two championships; the first with the Harlem Renaissance in 1939 and the second with the Washington Bears in 1943.

    Shawn Marion Honors the New York Rens (2014)

    NBA players pair up with Black Fives Era pioneers in this collaboration between Fox Sports Net and the Black Fives Foundation for the network’s Original Pioneers campaign. We provided the vintage images and the historical details. Fox Sports Net captured the footage of players’ comments and broadcasted the segments in its NBA affiliate markets during Black History Month 2014.

    In addition to playing basketball, Clayton played in the Negro Leagues with the New York Black Yankees and the Chicago Americans. He also refereed the famous Rumble in the Jungle bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, and served the people of Philadelphia as a fireman for 30 years.

    Clayton will  join with the all-time winningest boys high school coach Robert Hughes; former WNBA star and ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo; two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady; three-time consensus National College Coach of the Year from Notre Dame Muffet McGraw; two-time AP College Coach of the Year Bill Self; former Philadelphia 76ers star forward George McGinnis; former player and owner of the Harlem Globetrotters Mannie Jackson; former NCAA basketball administrator Tom Jernstedt; general manager of the Chicago Bulls Jerry Krause; and former basketball star from Greece Nick Galis.

    Clayton died in 1997 at the age of 84.