William P. "Pop" Gates

In the days of cage basketball, when the game was still segregated by color, William “Pop” Gates was considered one of the finest players. Always a scoring threat, Gates was a complete ballplayer on offense, a defensive specialist, and a strong rebounder. Speed was his game but he excelled in any style of play and handled the ball with ease. Transitioning directly from a high school championship team at Benjamin Franklin in 1938 to a World Professional Championship with the New York Renaissance in 1939, Gates quickly claimed the title of World Tournament All-Pro, in only his second season – an honor he earned a total of eight times for his career. As a member of the barnstorming Rens, the team won 68 straight games en route to the World Professional Tournament championship in 1939. Gates played for a handful of teams and helped to integrate the National Basketball League in 1946 as a member of the Buffalo Bisons/Tri-Cities Blackhawks.