Pop Gates

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William "Pop" Gates (August 30, 1917 – December 1, 1999) was an American professional basketball player.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Decatur, Alabama and attended high school in New York, New York. After playing college basketball at Clark Atlanta University, he continued his basketball career in New York City.

Basketball career[edit]

He started his professional basketball career with the Harlem Renaissance, beginning in 1938–39. "Seven months before Jackie Robinson made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Leo Ferris helped usher in a new era of racial integration for professional basketball when he signed William "Pop" Gates, who made his debut for the Blackhawks in October 1946. Gates, along with William "Dolly" King, were the first two African-American players in the NBL. "When Leo Ferris came to me, it was like a godsend," Gates was quoted as saying in the book, "Pioneers of the Hardwood: Indiana and the Birth of Professional Basketball." "It was a real highlight of my career to be accepted by the NBL as one of only two blacks in the league."[1] He became one of the early black players in the NBL in 1946. Later he played for and coached the Harlem Globetrotters. Gates is one of the few athletes who went directly from a high school championship team (Benjamin Franklin, New York, 1938) to a World Professional Champion (Rens, 1939).

Awards and honors[edit]

Gates was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1989.


  1. ^ "Long-forgotten Leo Ferris helped devise NBA's 24-second clock, first used 61 years ago today". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2016-03-14.

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