Pop Gates (Pro basketball. Born, Decatur, GA, Aug. 30, 1917; died, New York, NY, Dec. 1, 1999.) A legendary name in the early days of emerging black players in basketball, William Gates moved to New York as a youngster and established his reputation on Ben Franklin H.S.’s integrated team. After a P.S.A.L. championship in his senior year (1938), Gates enrolled briefly at Atlanta’s Clark College but began playing that year for the famed Renaissance Big Five. The Rens were one of the top touring teams in pro basketball in the days before World War II and won the World Pro Championship tournament in Chicago the following spring. Subsequently, Gates joined the Grumman Flyers (1941-43), the Washington Bears (1943-45), Grumman Hellcats (1945-46), and Buffalo in the N.B.L. in 1946. He was one of four black players in the pro circuit that season (the team shifted to Moline, Ill., as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks early in the season) but all four were out of the N.B.L. after that season. This is partially because Gates became the focal point of a fight with the Syracuse Nationals. He then rejoined the Rens, who moved into the N.B.L. as a unit in 1948-49 with Gates as player-coach of the team based in Dayton, Ohio. The N.B.L. merged into the Basketball Association of America to form the N.B.A. in the summer of 1949 and Gates went to the Harlem Globetrotters for five years before retiring in 1955. A tough 6’3”, Gates estimated he had played in over 1,500 pro games. He later worked for the City of New York Department of Social Services.
About This Dictionary
The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.
About Bill Shannon
A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more