Lester "Les" Harrison

Lester Harrison, a pioneer in professional basketball as a player, coach, and owner was consumed by basketball since the early 1920s when he played at East High School in Rochester. As owner-coach of the Rochester Royals, he led the team to three National Basketball League Finals and won the 1946 title. By signing African-American Dolly King in 1946, Harrison played an important role in integrating professional basketball. Harrison’s Royals played one season (1948-49) in the Basketball Association of America before joining the NBA. In 1949 he spearheaded the NBL’s merger with the BAA to form the NBA. Under Harrison’s direction, the Royals won the 1951 NBA championship and five divisional titles. Harrison was on the board of directors of all three professional basketball leagues (NBL, BAA, NBA). Ever the innovator, Harrison was a strong advocate for and proponent of the 24-second shot clock.