The Nets have embraced the legacy of the Brooklyn Dodgers and their special place in the integration of American life. Now, they are doing the same with the heritage of black basketball, honoring the Black Fives, the African-American professional basketball teams that played in Brooklyn and the Northeast a hundred years ago.
On February 4, the Nets will unveil a special tribute at Barclays Center. Six photographs of the teams, including Brooklyn's Smart Set, are being enlarged to poster size and placed in the home of their descendants. The photos will form a permanent exhibition along the main concourse of the arena. The Smart Set will have a special place. The Brooklyn team won the first two Colored World Championship in 1906 and 1907. Unveiling will be followed six days later by a ceremony during halftime of the Nets-Spurs game. It will honor descendants of Black Fives players.
The photographs were gathered by Claude Johnson, former head of international licensing at the NBA. He's written a book on his research, called "Black Fives" and has begun licensing the materials associated with the teams, including the Smart Set. Johnson is counting on the photographs at the arena to dispel the notion that the Nets are the first important basketball team to call Brooklyn home.
- Long Before the Brooklyn Nets, There Were the Black Fives - James Barron - New York Times
The first Kings of Brooklyn - Wayne Coffey - NY Daily News