HISTORICAL BASKETBALL WRITER

Douglas Stark

Today, it is nearly impossible to talk about the best basketball players in America without acknowledging the accomplishments of incredibly talented, black athletes like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant.  A little over a century ago, however, the game was completely dominated by white players playing on segregated courts and teams.

Today, it is nearly impossible to talk about the best basketball players in America without acknowledging the accomplishments of incredibly talented, black athletes like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant. A little over a century ago, however, the game was completely dominated by white players playing on segregated courts and teams. In the 1920s, while the Negro Leagues provided African American athletes a way to participate in baseball, no such league existed in basketball. Out of that particular void, all-black teams such as the Harlem Globetrotters and New York Renaissance emerged and were wildly successful for over two decades.

In Breaking Barriers: A History of Integration in Professional Basketball, Douglas Stark outlines the major moments that led to the sport opening the doors to black players. Focusing on six key events, the book charts the progress of integration from Bucky Lew—the first black, professional basketball player in 1902—to the modern game played by athletes like Stephen Curry and LeBron James. While the author pays special attention to the official integration of basketball in the late 1940s, the story of successful black basketball players did not simply end there. Over the past 60-plus years, black athletes have continued to change the game of basketball in terms of style, social progress, and marketability. 

From the early 1900s to the present day, no other book takes such a comprehensive look into the key events and figures that led to the integration of professional basketball. In Breaking Barriers, these crucial steps in the history of basketball are placed within the larger context of American history, making this book an essential addition to the literature on sports and race in America.