The Black Fives

The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era


A groundbreaking, timely history of the largely unknown early days of Black basketball, bringing to life the trailblazing players, teams, and impresarios who made the game


ISBN: 9781419749780 Category:

Claude Johnson


From the introduction of the game of basketball to Black communities on a wide scale in 1904 to the racial integration of the NBA in 1950, dozens of African American teams were founded and flourished. This period, known as the Black Fives Era (teams at the time were often called “fives”), was a time of pioneering players and managers. They battled discrimination and marginalization and created culturally rich, socially meaningful events. But despite headline-making rivalries between big-city clubs, the savvy moves of innovative businessmen, and the undeniable talent of star players, this period is almost entirely unknown to basketball fans.

Additional information

Weight 616 g
Dimensions 14.4 x 22.2 cm
Publisher name ABRAMS
Publication date 22 February 2024
Number of pages 352
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 14.4 x 22.2 cm
Weight 616 g


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Claude Johnson is a historian and founder of the Black Fives Foundation. He has a BS in civil engineering and economics from Carnegie Mellon and an MS in mechanical engineering from Stanford. During a 20-year career in corporate America, Johnson held management and executive positions at IBM, American Express, NBA Properties, Nike, Phat Farm, and Benetton Sportsystem. He left to become a stay-at-home dad to his three student-athlete three sons, each of whom became NCAA Division I student-athletes; the oldest two in football and his youngest in basketball.