Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League / Eastern Professional Basketball League (1946–1970)
Billed as the “World’s Oldest Professional Basketball League”, the Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League was founded on April 23, 1946, which pre-dated the founding of the National Basketball Association by two months.
This league set the precedent for black players to join the ranks of professional basketball. The all-black Dayton Rens competed in the 1948-49 National Basketball League.
Note: In the 1946-47 Eastern League season, the Hazleton Mountaineers had three African American players on their roster during the season – Bill Brown, Zack Clayton and John Isaacs. Isaacs previously played with the the Washington Bears (an all-black touring squad)… Brown and Clayton were former Harlem Globetrotters. In the 1955-56 season, the Hazleton Hawks was the first integrated professional league franchise with an all-black starting lineup: #7 Tom Hemans, Niagara, Jesse Arnelle, Penn State, #8 Fletcher
Johnson, #4 Sherman White, LIU, F, 6-8, and #8* Floyd Lane, CCNY, G, 6-2.
Other notable players: #10 Jack deFares, Winston-Salem (1958-59) 6-2, #12 Tarzan Spencer, Md-Eastern Shore (1960-61), F,6-7, Ted Benson, Morris Brown (1961-62) 6-5, #6 John Chaney, Bethune-Cookman (1961-62) G, 6-1, Sonny Lloyd, Maryland State (1961-62) F, 6-7, Bobby Jones, Moravian, G, 6-1, Rollie Harris, None, F, 6-6, #5 Alonzo Lewis, LaSalle, G, 6-1, #10 Bob Gainey, #11 Charlie Hoxie, Niagara, F, 6-5 (1960-61).
Eastern Basketball Association (1970–78)
After going through numerous transformations with teams, the league emerged into the Continental Basketball League in 1979. The first commissioner was Harry Rudolph (father of NBA referee Mendy Rudolph). He was succeeded by Steve A. Kauffman in 1975. Kauffman added the Anchorage Northern Knights into the league beginning with the 1977-78 season, but it was short-lived.