John Isaacs

In the days when basketball was still divided along the lines of race and color, John “Boy Wonder” Isaacs starred for the New York Renaissance Big Five, the greatest all-black team of the segregated era. A native of Panama, Isaacs went straight from winning a New York City championship in high school to a professional contract with the Rens. Over the next three seasons, Isaacs helped the Rens to more than 350 wins and the first ever World Professional Basketball Tournament championship in Chicago in 1939. Isaacs was a quick guard who fit perfectly into the rapid-fire offense the Rens ran. He also brought a physicality to the game that was rare for the time period, going chest-to-chest with the best competition the game had to offer. In 1943, Isaacs was under contract with the Washington Bears, producing the same results, a second World Pro title. Isaacs played for a number of teams during his long career including the Dayton Rens, Utica Olympics, Hazelton Mountaineers, and the Long Island Grumman Hellcats Five.