I was doing some research on the early days of professional basketball, and found that the information available is pretty sketchy. I was able to find and identify players who were previously unknown, and figured I would throw up this blog to track my trials and errors, as well as allow other out there to help in research or maybe even throw a hint here or there or fill in some holes.
I am mainly looking at the National Basketball League (which commenced operations in 1937-38), the Basketball Association of America (which started in 1946-47 and became the NBA when it picked up teams from the NBL for the 1949-50 season), the NBA and ABA. Maybe later I will venture off to other early professional leagues, but for now, I am sticking to the NBA pipeline. Think of this as a very low-end version of SABR for basketball.
The NBL was formed from the remnants of the Midwest Basketball Conference, which was a loose assortment of Industrial teams. A lot of corporations had semi-pro teams for baseball and basketball, and competed with others in their region. Think of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team, if that helps the anology. There were a few attempts at organizing an honest-to-goodness professional league at various points in the sports history. There was an NBL the operated in 1926-27, again in 1929-30, and even one more time in 1932-33. The Midwest Basketball conference was formed in 1935-36, and after two seasons, some of the teams left to form the National Basketball League. Comprised of teams owned by three Midwest based corporations (General Electric, Goodyear and Firestone), they were the largest and most successful (relative term) pro hoops league until 1946. In late 1946, NHL team owners were looking at ways to get their arenas used on nights when there were no hockey games. Their decision: basketball. So five of the six NHL team owners (Detroit, Chicago, New York, Boston and Toronto) created basketball teams, and added six other cities (Washington, Providence, St Louis, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) to form the BAA. By the end 1948-49 season, the NBL was on the verge of disintegrating due to the much-more successful BAA. So for the 1949-50 season, the leagues merged. (A more accurate description would be that the NBL folded and the BAA picked up the more successful franchises.) They changed their name to the National Basketball Association and the rest is history.
I am using various sources to start with, like basketball-reference.com and justsportsstats.com. They are good with a lot of starting information, but some errors are to be found as well as blank spots not filled in. Those pre-1950 players can be pretty tricky to locate, but not impossible. A lot of early teams were local, so most Fort Wayne players, for instance, lived or went to college near Fort Wayne.
So as I said, I will explain my research and logic, and if anyone can confirm or refute anything I wrote, please feel free to add information. This is a community effort. Include links or sources, though, for information, if available.