National Basketball League

This article discusses the National Basketball League, a defunct professional league in the United States. For the Australian league, see National Basketball League (Australia).


The National Basketball League was a professional basketball league in the United States from 1937 to 1949. The NBL started with 13 previously independent teams in 1937-38. The league was created by three corporations General Electric,Firestone and Goodyear. The league was made up mostly by teams in small Great Lakes towns and corporate teams. The NBL lasted 12 years before merging with the three-year-old Basketball Association of America in 1949 which was renamed the National Basketball Association.

Five current NBA teams can trace their history back to the NBL. Los Angeles Lakers, then the Minneapolis Lakers; Sacramento Kings then the Rochester Royals; Detroit Pistons,then the Ft.Wayne Pistons; joined the NBA in 1948. The Atlanta Hawks,then the Tri-Cities Blackhawks and the Philadelphia 76ers then the Syracuse Nationals joined the NBA in 1949.

Also still surviving is the Akron Wingfoots, the initial NBL Champion in 1938. The Wingfoots suspended operations for WWII and were not included in the NBL/BAA merger. Instead they remained in the National Indistrial Basketball League (NIBL), which in 1961 became the National AAU Basketball League (NABL). The Wingfoots are still an AAU Elite team in the NABL.

The top-level Australian professional basketball league is also known as the "National Basketball League". See National Basketball League (Australia).

National Basketball League Champions

  • 1937-38 Goodyear Wingfoots 2-1 Oshkosh All-Stars
  • 1938-39 Firestone Non-Skids 3-2 Oshkosh All-Stars
  • 1939-40 Firestone Non-Skids 3-2 Oshkosh All-Stars
  • 1940-41 Oshkosh All-Stars 3-0 Sheboygan Redskins
  • 1941-42 Oshkosh All-Stars 2-1 Ft. Wayne Pistons
  • 1942-43 Sheboygan Redskins 2-1 Ft. Wayne Pistons
  • 1943-44 Ft. Wayne Pistons 3-0 Sheboygan Redskins
  • 1944-45 Ft. Wayne Pistons 3-2 Sheboygan Redskins
  • 1945-46 Rochester Royals 3-0 Sheboygan Redskins
  • 1946-47 Chicago Gears 3-2 Rochester Royals
  • 1947-48 Minneapolis Lakers 3-1 Rochester Royals
  • 1948-49 Anderson Packers 3-0 Oshkosh All-Stars

NBL Teams 1937-49

  • Akron Firestone Non-Skids (1937-41)
  • Akron Goodyear Wingfoots (1937-42)
  • Anderson Duffey Packers (1946-49)
  • Buffalo Bisons (1937-38)
  • Chicago Bruins (1939-42)
  • Chicago Studebaker Flyers (1942-43)
  • Chicago American Gears (1944-47)
  • Cleveland Chase Brassmen (1943-44)
  • Cleveland Allmen Transfers (1944-46)
  • Columbus Athletic Supply (1938-39)
  • Dayton Metropolitans (1937-38)
  • Denver Nuggets (1948-49)
  • Detroit Eagles(1939-41)
  • Detroit Gems (1946-47)
  • Detroit Vagabond Kings/Dayton Rens(1948-49)
  • Flint Dow A.C.'s/Midland Dow A.C.'s (1947-48)
  • Fort Wayne General Electrics (1937-38)
  • Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons (1941-48)
  • Hammond Ciesar All-Americans (1938-41)
  • Hammond Calumet Buccaneers (1948-49)
  • Indianapolis Kautskys (1937-48)
  • Kankakee Gallagher Trojans(1937-38)
  • Minneapolis Lakers (1947-48)
  • Oshkosh All-Stars (1937-49)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (1937-39)
  • Pittsburgh Raiders (1944-45)
  • Richmond King Clothiers/Cincinnati Comellos(1937-38)
  • Rochester Royals (1945-48)
  • Sheboygan Redskins (1938-49)
  • Syracuse Nationals (1946-49)
  • Toledo Jim White Chevrolets (1941-43)
  • Toledo Jeeps (1946-48)
  • Tri-Cities Blackhawks (1946-49)
  • Warren Penns (1937-38)
  • Warren Penns/Cleveland White Horses(1938-39)
  • Waterloo Hawks(1948-49)
  • Whiting Ciesar All-Americans (1937-38)
  • Youngstown Bears(1945-47)

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