Home Court: Turner’s Arena
Nickname: “Bears”, “Lichtman Bears”
Manager: Harold “Hal” Jackson
The Washington Bears, an all-black professional basketball team, were organized in 1941 by sports business entrepreneur Harold “Hal” Jackson, a Washington, D.C. native. Jackson, a sports broadcasting and journalism pioneer, leveraged his popularity as the radio play-by-play announcer for Howard University and Homestead Grays baseball games.
The properties controlled by Lichtman, including the famous Howard Theater on T Street, were among the city’s only playhouses that catered to African Americans.
In 1943 the Washington Bears went 41-0 and won the invitation-only World Championship of Professional Basketball, the nation’s highest basketball title, held in Chicago and sponsored by the Chicago Herald-American newspaper.
“Winning the World’s title, the Washington team performed a feat that NO PREVIOUS WINNER HAS RECORDED. They finished the 1943 season with a perfect record having won every one of their 41 starts. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE TURN OF THE CENTURY THAT A PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM HAS ENJOYED A SEASON WITHOUT A SINGLE DEFEAT.”
—Leo Fischer, Sports Editor, Chicago Herald-American