The pre-NBA history of Black athletes in basketball is the subject of a documentary being developed by LA Lakers star Russell Westbrook and his Zero World Media (Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre), Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens’ Propagate Content and The Black Fives Foundation.
Known as the Black Fives Era, the period spanned from 1904, when the game was first introduced to Black schoolchildren on a wide scale organized basis, to 1950, when the NBA signed its first Black players.
Dozens of African American basketball “fives,” a reference to the five starting players on a squad, emerged and thrived, helping to popularize the sport around the country with high caliber talent and innovative styles of play on the courts of big cities and remote towns alike.
Barred from whites-only gymnasiums and athletic clubs, Black Fives Era teams played in church basements, armories, meeting halls and dance ballrooms while featuring popular all-Black ragtime, blues, and jazz orchestras before and after games with dancing well past midnight to create meaningful social events and a marriage of sports with music that remains today.
The documentary project aims at capturing the stories of how the pioneering efforts of Black Fives Era players paved the way for the global appeal of the modern game against the backdrop of the cultural evolution of Black America itself.
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SOURCE: Deadline, Nellie Andreeva and Denise Petski