Last NameSportCountryYear Inducted
Sport: Basketball
Inducted: 1991
Country: United States
Born: August 20, 1904, in Rochester, New York
Died: December 23, 1997

A pioneer in professional basketball as a player, coach, and team owner, Lester Harrison is one of the founders of the National Basketball Association and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979.

Having organized traveling semi-pro teams as early as the 1920s, Harrison formed the Rochester Pros in 1944 in his hometown of Rochester. The following year, when Harrison purchased a franchise in the National Basketball League, the Pros became the Rochester Royals. In 1946, the NBL merged into the Basketball Association of America, and in 1949 Harrison’s Royals joined with seven other teams to form the NBA.

With Harrison as owner-coach, the Royals won league championships in 1946, 1947, and 1951. In seven NBA seasons, his Royals had a 238–181 win–loss record. The original Royals franchise moved to Cincinnati in 1956, then to Kansas City, and the team is now the Sacramento Kings.

There was little media fanfare in 1946 when Harrison signed Dolly King to play for his NBL Royals. The Rochester kingpin had also persuaded the owner of his league rival Buffalo Bisons to sign player William “ Pop” Gates. Ayear before Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball, King and Gates became the first Black Americans to play organized professional basketball.

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