While many basketball fans are salivating at the mouth waiting for this years NBA Finals match-up between the Warriors and Cavs to kick off this week, we at Packer Shoes in conjunction with ’47 Brand and Staple Design would like to take the time to reflect on the early origins of the game that has become an international pastime…
After it’s invention in 1891 by Canadian PE coach James Naismith, basketball teams were commonly nicknamed as “Fives” due to each teams starting five player roster. Just as America was racially segregated during the early 1900’s, so was the game of basketball, where many all African-American teams were infamously referred to as “Black Fives”. The sport remained divided from 1904 until 1950 when the National Basketball Association became racially integrated. The period in between became known as the Black Fives Era, when dozens of all-black teams emerged, flourished, and excelled.
One of the original “Black Fives” squads hailing from Orange, New Jersey (just 25 mins from our Teaneck store location) was the The Independent Pleasure Club of New Jersey.
Formed in 1908 with official team colors of forest green & ivory, the IPC could be considered one of the first entrepreneurial organizations of it’s era as the actual name and meaning of the IPC team shared a rather unique duality. In order to retain complete control of their team and to avoid any restrictions on game schedules and activities by outside influence, the club avoided affiliations with churches, Y.M.C.A.s, schools, or Amateur Athletic Union chapters. The word “Pleasure” in IPC came from the connotation of basketball at a time when the practice of sports was seen as a “pleasure” activity.
While the IPC was heavily regarded as one of the premier all African-American basketball squads on the east coast during the early 1900’s (winning the NJ Colored Basketball Championship 1913), the team had a code. This distinct set of morals and principals made the IPC pioneers of “Sport Culture” as we know it today. Serving as advocates for “uplifting the colored athletic standard”, the IPC staged social events to raise funds and strengthen camaraderie among athletes as well as to build community awareness. These functions included picnics, cigar “smokers,” music recitals, dances, poetry readings, and theatrical plays—all of which played an important role for club members by reinforcing their values and aspirations as men.
Honored at the opportunity to partner with a fellow brand rooted in family values and focused on genuine relationships — in paying homage to one of the great pioneering basketball teams of the Black Fives Era, we are proud to introduce the Packer x ’47 Brand Independent Pleasure Club Collection.
Using the official team colors of forest green and ivory, the Packer x ’47 Brand IPC Collection consists of three Captain RF snapbacks, two Open Court t-shirts, an Alpha Tank Top, “All-Time” Crewneck Sweatshirt, Overload Jacket and IPC Pennant.