Wartime Basketball


Wartime Basketball

The Emergence of a National Sport during World War II

Douglas Stark

384 pages
48 illustrations, 22 tables


May 2016


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2016


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2016


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Wartime Basketball tells the story of basketball’s survival and development during World War II and how those years profoundly affected the game’s growth after the war. Prior to World War II, basketball—professional and collegiate—was largely a regional game, with different styles played throughout the country. Among its many impacts on home-front life, the war forced pro and amateur leagues to contract and combine rosters to stay competitive. At the same time, the U.S. military created base teams made up of top players who found themselves in uniform. The war created the opportunity for players from different parts of the country to play with and against each other. As a result, a more consistent form of basketball began to take shape.
The rising popularity of the professional game led to the formation of the World Professional Basketball Tournament (WPBT) in 1939. The original March Madness, the WPBT was played in Chicago for ten years and allowed professional, amateur, barnstorming, and independent teams to compete in a round-robin tournament. The WPBT included all-black and integrated teams in the first instance where all-black teams could compete for a “world series of basketball” against white teams. Wartime Basketball describes how the WPBT paved the way for the National Basketball League to integrate in December 1942, five years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball.
Weaving stories from the court into wartime and home-front culture like a finely threaded bounce pass, Wartime Basketball sheds light on important developments in the sport’s history that have been largely overlooked.       

Author Bio

Douglas Stark is the museum director at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. He is the author of The SPHAS: The Life and Times of Basketball’s Greatest Jewish Team.


"An important work for readers interested in the history of basketball before the NBA."—Library Journal

"Wartime Basketball: The Emergence of a National Sport During World War II serves as a tremendous addition to the history of professional basketball."—Susan J. Rayl, ARETE

“I love this book. The narrative comes alive with the fascinating testimonies of those involved. Along the way, Douglas Stark traces the evolution of the game during those otherwise fearsome years. This is a must-have book for both the casual basketball fan as well as the devoted hoop-o-phile.”—Charley Rosen, author of Perfectly Awful: The Philadelphia 76ers’ Horrendous and Hilarious 1972–1973 Season

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    
Introduction: A New Game    
1. America Goes to War, 1941–1942    
2. The Color Line Falls, 1942–1943    
3. Wartime Basketball, 1943–1944    
4. The Big Man Cometh, 1944–1945    
5. Looking toward the Future, 1945–1946    
Epilogue: Basketball Arrives    
Appendix A. National Basketball League (NBL) Standings    
Appendix B. American Basketball League (ABL) Standings    
Appendix C. World Professional Basketball Tournament Results    
Appendix D. Red Cross Charity Matches    
Appendix E. Service Team Records    

Also of Interest