- Style: 310130-471
- Color: Midnight Navy/Pro Gold-White
- MSRP: $65.00
- Popularity: 35 / 100
Nike Air Legend (Harlem Renaissance)
"In 1923, a Caribbean-born basketball manager made a deal with a new Negro owned ballroom in harlem. In return for allowing his championship all-black Spartan Braves quad to make the ball room their permanent home court, the owner renamed his club after the ballroom. When the owner introduced full-season player contracts, the "Rens" became America's first all black, black owned professional basketball team and attracted the best negro talent in the game including a future Hall of Famer. By 1924-25, the Rens, also known as Big R Five, won the first of many Colored Basketball World Championships and then dominated not just black basketball but all of the basketball for the next 25 years. The Rens peaked in 1939 when they won the first World Professional Basketball tournament in Chicago.
The term Black Fives usually refers to basketball leagues that thrived in the United States in the period between 1900 and 1940, when racial segregation was institutionalized, in which African-American players in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Pittsburgh, and later other cities, engaged in community-based and inter-city leagues and rivalries. this special collectible Nike Dunk pays tribute to one of the earliest black professional basketball teams in America, the New York Rennaissance, known as the Rens. The Rens, who are considered by experts to be as important in the development of black basketball as the Harlem Globetrotters, began in 1920, and their first victory over the white world champion Original Celtics in 1925 was a watershed moment in both basketball and race relations in the United States.
Robert Douglas, a resident of New York City who had emigrated from the British West Indies in about 1902, founded the Rens-–the Renaissance Big Five--in 1923 and by the late 1920s, the Rens had become one of the sport's top draws in white and black America alike, setting the stage for the team's undisputed world championship in 1939. The Rens would leave New York for months at a time, traveling thousands of miles and playing every night and twice on Sundays. Off-court, they slept on their bus because they couldn't find a place to stay under the prevailing segregation ("Jim Crow") laws. Once, an Indiana restaurant owner put a tall screen around the team's table to segregate the Rens from other customers. Isaacs, the team's star player, walked out, choosing instead to sit in the bus with a meal of salami on Ritz crackers. On the court, the Rens faced hostile crowds, ruthless name calling and overtly biased referees until their championship in 1939. The New York Renaissance, like other Black Five teams, came to an end in 1940's with the outbreak of World War II, until 1963 when the Rens were named to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a team. Only their arch-rivals, the Original Celtics, and the Buffalo Germans received the same honor. The Rens' selection was well-deserved, for despite traveling and playing throughout America when the harsh effect of segregation was common and often legal, they compiled a 2318-381 record before the team folded in 1949. This special edition dunk is a fitting tribute to their pioneering foray into the professional athletic world.
The Nike Air Legend was originally designed with professional basketball players in mind. It was the first to have coloured soles and linings, first to have a perforated toe, and on the high top the first to have a lacing system flexpoint which had only been used on Nike running shoes until that time. The Legend came in low and high editions, but only the high top had the hinged eyelet design to support the ankle and prevent the ankle collar from buckling and digging into the wearer's ankle. Retired NBA star Patrick Ewing wore the Nike Legend high-top while playing for Georgetwon in the NCAA league. The Nike Air Legend debuted in 1983.