Philadelphia Panthers photo collage

A collage of images about the Philadelphia Panthers basketball team of the early 1920s.

Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
Nickname: “Philadelphia’s Representative Team”
Colors: Black, Gray

The Philadelphia Panthers were an all-black basketball team of the 1910s and 1920s. It grew out of the city’s Christian Street (a.k.a. Southwest”) Colored YMCA in the late 1910s, when Philadelphia emerged as a black basketball power base with such teams as nearby Lincoln University, the Vandals and Buccaneers of Atlantic City, the Briscoe Five, and the Southwest Scholastics.

The official logo of the Philadelphia Panthers

The official logo of the Philadelphia Panthers.

They were so successful and popular that African Americans in the City of Brotherly Love, insofar as black basketball was concerned, embraced them as “Philadelphia’s Representative Team.”

The biggest stars on the semi-pro Panthers were tall homegrown center Charles “Tarzan” Cooper, Jackie Bethards, and Billy Yancey, a two-sport athlete who also played pro baseball as a shortstop for the New York Lincoln Giants and the Hilldale Club. All three men later played for the New York Renaissance, and Cooper was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970.