Let me take you back in the history of basketball, one which we are certainly NOT doomed to repeat. To the 1920s, Washington, D.C. ….
Photos via Shorpy.com.
[Feb. 15, 1926. Washington, D.C. Palace team, entry in the American basketball league, being taught Charleston by Vivian Marinelli. Left to right: Kearns, Manager Kennedy, Conway, woman playing piano, Miss Marinelli, Grody, and Saunders]
Last week a D.C. neighborhood blog, New Columbia Heights, posted some very old photos of a Washington pro basketball team from the 1920s, the Palace Five Laundrymen.
The Palace Five played in the American Basketball League (ABL) from 1925 to 1927 and were owned by the racist former owner of the Washington Redskins, George Preston Marshall. Most interesting to me, they played in Columbia Heights, D.C., mere blocks from where I live today.
The “Arcade,” via New Columbia Heights, stood where the DCUSA big box shopping center is now, on 14th Street NW between Irving Street and Park Road. The Arcade featured a 4,000 seat arena, movie theaters, bowling, billiards, roller skating and more. In addition to basketball, wrestling matches and roller hockey took place.
The Laundrymen, called such because Marshall owned a chain of laundries called Palace Laundry, were actually one of the more blog-worthy teams of the twenties. I mean, just look at team manager (and player) Ray Kennedy get down to the Charleston with Vivian Marinelli (great name, BTW). In any case, it was totally like when Mark Cuban was on Dancing With The Stars.
Otherwise, my first notion upon reading about the Washington Palace Five Laundrymen was to try to connect someone who played for them to current Washington Wizard John Wall in the least amount of “played with” degrees possible. So that’s what I did.
- In the 1926-27 season, good ol’ Rusty Saunders (seen peeping the scene on the very far right in the dancing picture above) led the entire ABL in scoring with 399 points (119 FGs, 161 FTs). His average of 9.5 points per game paced the 15-6 Palace Five.
- For the 1936-37 ABL season, Rusty, who also saw time with the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team in ’27, played for the Kingston Colonials, of New Jersey way, not Jamaica. With Kingston Saunders averaged just 4.3 points, but played with the league’s leading scorer, Phil Rabin, who tallied a scorching 13.2 points per game. Rabin also led the ABL in scoring in 1937-38 and 1938-39 (that last season with the Jersey Reds).
- In 1939-40 and 1940-41 Rabin played for another D.C. entry in the ABL, the Washington Heurich Brewers. The Brewers were named after, you guessed it, a brewery owned by a guy named Heurich. If you’re familiar with the D.C. area, the brewery was located near Dupont Circle at 1229 20th Street. And guess what, they had a gymnasium at that brewery where the basketball team practiced. Fun times, I imagine. In ’39-40 the Brewers finished second in the regular season, but fell short in the championship Round Robin playoff, winning only one of six games. Rabin teamed with a guy named Mike Bloom for that year’s run.
- Bloom played with Hall of Famer George Mikan on the Minneapolis Lakers of the Basketball Association of America (BAA) for part of the 1948-49 season, and he also played with George’s brother, Ed Mikan, on the Chicago Stags for the other part.
- Ed Mikan played with Bob Cousy on the 1953-54 Boston Celtics, by then of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
OK, from here I could go with the fact that 6) Cousy played with John Havlicek on the 1962-63 Boston Celtics; 7) Havlicek played with Cedric Maxwell on the 1977-78 Celtics; 8) Maxwell played with Hakeem Olajuwon on the 1987-88 Houston Rockets; 9) Hakeem played with Moochie Norris on the 2000-01 Rockets; and 10) Moochie played with Rashard Lewis on the 1998-99 SuperSonics…
OR, 6) Cousy played with Oscar Robertson on the 1969-70 Cincinnati Royals; 7) Robertson played with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the 1973-74 Milwaukee Bucks; 8) Kareem played with A.C. Green on the 1988-89 Lakers; 9) Green played with Don MacLean on the 2000-01 Miami Heat; and 10) MacLean played with Rashard Lewis on the 1998-99 Seattle SuperSonics…
Either way, via Rashard Lewis, the end has come to John Wall. Is it possible to connect someone from the Washington Palace Five to Wall in less “played with” degrees? Perhaps, but why would you even try?