World Professional Basketball Tournament

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World Professional Basketball Tournament
Sport Basketball
Founded 1939
Ceased 1948
Country  United States

The World Professional Basketball Tournament was an invitational tournament held in Chicago and sponsored by the Chicago Herald American. The annual event was held from 1939–48, and the winner was generally acknowledged as the World Champions of basketball. Many teams came from the National Basketball League, but it also included the best teams from other leagues and the best independent barnstorming teams such as the New York Rens and Harlem Globetrotters. Games were played at various sites including Chicago Coliseum, International Amphitheater and Chicago Stadium.

The NBL champion usually won this tournament, with three exceptions: the New York Rens won the first WPBT in 1939, while the Harlem Globetrotters—a strongly competitive squad in those days—won the following year. In 1943, the Washington Bears (with many New York Rens players on their roster) won the tournament. The NBL's Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons won the most titles (three, from 1944–46), while the NBL's Oshkosh All-Stars made the most finals appearances with five, winning only once (in 1942). The tournament disbanded in 1949, after the BAA and NBL merged to form the NBA.

All-time Championship Game scoring records[edit]

* Elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Player Team Games Pts PPG
Edwards, LeroyLeroy Edwards Oshkosh 5 53 10.6
McDermott, BobbyBobby McDermott Ft. Wayne 3 49 16.3
Pelkington, JakeJake Pelkington Det/Ft. W 4 45 11.2
Jeannette, BuddyBuddy Jeannette Det/Ft. W 4 42 10.5
Mikan, GeorgeGeorge Mikan Minneapolis 1 40 40
Gates, PopPop Gates NY/Wash 3 37 12.3
Sadowski, EdEd Sadowski Det/Ft. W 3 34 11.3
Bush, JerryJerry Bush Det/Ft. W 5 30 6.0
Clifton, NatNat Clifton NY 1 24 24.0
Englund, GeneGene Englund Oshkosh 3 22 7.3
Reiser, ChickChick Reiser Ft. Wayne 3 22 7.3
Tough, BobBob Tough Bkn/Ft. W 2 21 10.5
Cumberland, DukeDuke Cumberland Harlem/NY 2 20 10.0
Ahearn, JakeJake Ahearn Detroit 2 20 10.0
Sobek, GeorgeGeorge Sobek Toledo 1 20 20.0

All-time World Tournament team records[edit]

Team App. Gms W L 1st 2nd
Oshkosh All-Stars 9 30 20 10 1 4
New York Rens-Washington Bears 10 28 18 10 2 1
Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 8 21 15 6 3 0
Harlem Globetrotters 7 20 13 7 1 0
Detroit Eagles 3 10 8 2 1 1
Chicago American Gears 2 9 7 2 0 0
Chicago Bruins-Ramblers 4 9 5 4 0 1
Toledo White Huts-Whites-Jeeps 4 10 5 5 0 1
Sheboygan Redskins 8 14 5 9 0 0
Anderson Chiefs-Duffey Packers 3 7 4 3 0 0
Minneapolis Lakers 1 3 3 0 1 0
Brooklyn Eagles 1 4 3 1 0 1
L.I. Grumman Flyers/Hellcats 2 5 3 2 0 0
Dayton Acmes-Mickeys 2 5 3 2 0 1
Midland Dow Chemicals 3 6 3 3 0 0
Indianapolis Kautskys 5 7 3 4 1 0
Washington Heurlick Brewers 1 3 2 1 0 0
Tri-Cities Blackhawks 2 5 2 3 0 0
Baltimore Bullets 2 6 2 4 0 0
  • Twenty-seven teams entered the tournament in various years but did not win a game; eight teams had one win.
  • The world-famous New York Celtics played in the initial tournament in 1939, but lost their only game. Another well-known team, the Philadelphia Sphas, had a win and a loss in their only appearance, in 1941 .

Recap by year[edit]

1939[edit]

1940[edit]

  • 1st Place: Harlem Globetrotters 31- Chicago Bruins 29
  • MVP- Sonny Boswell (Harlem Globetrotters)
  • Leading Championship Game Scorers:
  • Sonny Boswell (Harlem Globetrotters) 12
  • Mike Novak (Chicago Bruins) 7
  • 3rd Place: Washington Heurich Brewers 41- Syracuse Reds 30
  • 5th Place: Sheboygan Redskins, Waterloo Wonders, Oshkosh All-Stars, New York Rens
  • 9th Place: Fort Wayne Harvesters, Rochester Seagrams, Kenosha Royals, Canton Bulldogs, Benton Harbor House of David, Clarksburg Oilers

1941[edit]

1942[edit]

  • 1st Place: Oshkosh All-Stars 43- Detroit Eagles 41
  • MVP- Ed Riska (Oshkosh All-Stars)
  • Leading Championship Game Scorers:
  • Gene Englund (Oshkosh All-Stars) 17
  • Buddy Jeanette (Detroit Eagles ) 14
  • 3rd Place: Long Island Grumman Flyers 43- Harlem Globetrotters 41
  • 5th Place: Aberdeen Army Ordinance Training Center, Sheboygan Redskins, Chicago Bruins, New York Rens
  • 9th Place: Detroit A.A.A., Columbus Bobb Chevrolets, Northern Indiana Steelers, Davenport Central Turner Rockets, Toledo White Huts, Hagerstown Conoco Oilers, Indianapolis Kautskys, Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons

1943[edit]

  • 1st Place: Washington, D.C. Bears 43- Oshkosh All-Stars 31
  • MVP- Curly Armstrong (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons)
  • Leading Championship Game Scorers:
  • Johnny Isaacs (Washington, D.C. Bears) 11
  • Leroy Edwards (Oshkosh All-Stars) 7
  • 3rd Place: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 58- Dayton Dive Bombers 52
  • 5th Place: Detroit Eagles, Sheboygan Redskins, Harlem Globetrotters, Minneapolis Sparklers
  • 9th Place: Akron Collegians, Indianapolis Pure Oils, Chicago Ramblers, South Bend Studebaker Champions

1944[edit]

  • 1st Place: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 50- Brooklyn Eagles 33
  • MVP- Bobby McDermott (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons)
  • Leading Championship Game Scorers:
  • Jake Pellington (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons) 19
  • Bob Tough & Bernie Opper (Brooklyn Eagles) 11
  • 3rd Place: Harlem Globetrotters 37- New York Rens 29
  • 5th Place: Dayton Aviators, Cleveland Chase Brassmen, Sheboygan Redskins, Oshkosh All-Stars
  • 9th Place: Akron Collegians, Camp Campbell Tankmen, Detroit Suffrins, Indianapolis Pure Oils, Rochester Wings, Pittsburgh Corbetts

1945[edit]

  • 1st Place: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 78- Dayton Acmes 52
  • MVP- Buddy Jeanette (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons)
  • Leading Championship Game Scorers:
  • Buddy Jeanette (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons) 18
  • John Mahnken (Dayton Acmes) 16
  • 3rd Place: Chicago American Gears 64- New York Rens 55
  • 5th Place: Oshkosh All-Stars, Pittsburgh Raiders, Midland Dow Chemicals, Harlem Globetrotters
  • 9th Place: Hartford Nutmegs, Detroit Mansfields, Indianapolis Oilers, Cleveland Allmen Transfers, Newark C-O Twos, Long Island Grumman Hellcats

1946[edit]

  • 1st Place: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 73- Oshkosh All-Stars 57
  • Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 56- Oshkosh All-Stars 47
  • Oshkosh All-Stars 61- Ft. Wayne Zollner Pistons 59
  • (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons wins series 2 games to 1)
  • MVP- George Mikan (Chicago American Gears )
  • Leading Championship Game Scorers:
  • Bobby McDermott (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons) 20
  • Leroy Edwards (Oshkosh All-Stars) 24
  • 3rd Place: Chicago American Gears 65- Baltimore Bullets 50
  • Chicago American Gears 59- Baltimore Bullets 54
  • (Chicago American Gears wins series 2 games to none)
  • 5th Place: New York Rens, Sheboygan Redskins, Midland Dows, Anderson Chiefs
  • 9th Place: Pittsburgh Raiders, Cleveland Allmen Transfers, Indianapolis Kautskys, Detroit Mansfields, Toledo Whites, Dayton Mickeys

1947[edit]

1948[edit]

External sources[edit]