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World Professional Basketball Tournament

The World Professional Basketball Tournament was an invitational tournament held in Chicago, Illinois and sponsored by the Chicago Herald American. The annual event was held from 1939-48, and the winner was generally acknowledged as the World Champions of basketball. Many teams came from the National Basketball League, but it also included the best teams from other leagues and the best independent barnstorming teams such as the New York Rens and Harlem Globetrotters. Games were played at various sites including Chicago Coliseum, International Amphitheater and Chicago Stadium.

One notable league who never participated in the tournament was the newly formed Basketball Association of America, the forerunner to the modern NBA, who forbade its teams from participating. Several teams who would eventually join the BAA/NBA would play in the tournament before joining, they include: the Pistons, Redskins, Kautskys/Jets, Packers, Blackhawks, Bullets, and Lakers.

Teams would also sometimes change their names when entering the tournament because of a new sponsor. Teams like the Toledo Jeeps became the Toledo White Huts or Whites when their played in the WPBT.

The NBL champion usually won this tournament, with three exceptions: the New York Rens in 1939, the Harlem Globetrotters in 1940 and the Washington Bears in 1943. The NBL's Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons won the most titles (three, from 1944-46), while the NBL's Oshkosh All-Stars made the most finals appearances with five, winning only once (in 1942). The tournament disbanded in 1949, after the BAA and NBL merged to form the NBA.

Tournament finals results Tournament MVPs
1939 New York Rens 34-25 Oshkosh All-Stars Puggy Bell, New York Rens
1940 Harlem Globetrotters 31-29 Chicago Bruins Sonny Boswell, Harlem Globetrotters
1941 Detroit Eagles 39-37 Oshkosh All-Stars Buddy Jeannette, Detroit Eagles
1942 Oshkosh All-Stars 43-41 Detroit Eagles Ed Riska, Oshkosh All-Stars
1943 Washington Bears 43-31 Oshkosh All-Stars Curly Armstrong, Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons
1944 Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 50-33 Brooklyn Eagles Bobby McDermott, Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons
1945 Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 78-52 Dayton Acmes Buddy Jeannette, Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons
1946 Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons73-57 Oshkosh All-Stars George Mikan, Chicago American Gears
1947 Indianapolis Kautskys 62-47 Toledo Jeeps Jule Rivlin, Toledo Jeeps
1948 Minneapolis Lakers 75-71 New York Rens George Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers

Team App. Gms W L 1st 2nd League
New York Rens-Wash. Bears 10 28 18 10 2 1 Ind.
Oshkosh All-Stars 9 30 20 10 1 4NBL
Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 8 21 15 6 3 0NBL
Sheboygan Redskins 8 14 5 9 0 0NBL
Harlem Globetrotters 7 20 13 7 1 0Ind
Indianapolis Kautskys 5 7 3 4 1 0NBL
Chicago Bruins-Ramblers 4 9 5 4 0 1NBL
Toledo White Huts-Whites-Jeeps 4 10 5 5 0 1NBL
Detroit Eagles 3 10 8 2 1 1NBL
Anderson Chiefs-Duffey Packers 3 7 4 3 0 0NBL
Midland Dow Chemicals 3 6 3 3 0 0NBL
Chicago American Gears 2 9 7 2 0 0NBL
L.I. Grumman Flyers/Hellcats 2 5 3 2 0 0?
Dayton Acmes-Mickeys 2 5 3 2 0 1?
Tri-Cities Blackhawks 2 5 2 3 0 0NBL
Baltimore Bullets 2 6 2 4 0 0ABL
Minneapolis Lakers 1 3 3 0 1 0NBL
Brooklyn Eagles 1 4 3 1 0 1ABL
Washington Heurlick Brewers 1 3 2 1 0 0?

Twenty-seven teams entered the tournament in various years but did not win a game; eight teams had one win.

The world famous New York Celtics played in the initial tournament in 1939, but lost their only game. Another well-known team, the Philadelphia Sphas, had a win and a loss in their only appearance, in 1941 .

1939
1st Place: New York Rens 34- Oshkosh All-Stars 25
MVP- Puggy Bell (New York Rens)
Leading Championship Game Scorers:
Pop Gates (New York Rens) 12
Leroy Edwards (Oshkosh All-Stars) 12
3rd Place: Harlem Globetrotters 36- Sheboygan Redskins 33
5th Place: New York Yankees, Chicago Harmons, New York Celtics
8th Place: Fort Wayne Harvesters, Brenton Harbor House of David, Illinois Grads, Clarksburg Oilers

1940
1st Place: Harlem Globetrotters 31- Chicago Bruins 29
MVP- Sonny Boswell (Harlem Globetrotters)
Leading Championship Game Scorers:
Sonny Boswell (Harlem Globetrotters) 12
Mike Novak (Chicago Bruins) 7
3rd Place: Washington Heurich Brewers 41- Syracuse Reds 30
5th Place: Sheboygan Redskins, Waterloo Wonders, Oshkosh All-Stars, NY Rens
9th Place: Fort Wayne Harvesters, Rochester Seagrams, Kenosha Royals, Canton Bulldogs, Benton Harbor House of David, Clarksburg Oilers

1941
1st Place: Detroit Eagles 39- Oshkosh All-Stars 37
MVP- Buddy Jeannette (Detroit Eagles)
Leading Championship Game Scorers:
Ed Sadowski (Detroit Eagles) 11
Bob Carpenter (Oshkosh All-Stars) 8
3rd Place: New York Rens 57- Toledo White Huts 42
5th Place: Chicago Bruins, Kenosha Royals, Harlem Globetrotters, Philadelphia Sphas
9th Place: Davenport Central Turner Rockets, Indianapolis Kautskys, Newark Elks, Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, Dayton Sucher Wonders, Rochester Seagrams, Sheboygan Redskins, Bismark Phantoms

1942
1st Place: Oshkosh All-Stars 43- Detroit Eagles 41
MVP- Ed Riska (Oshkosh All-Stars)
Leading Championship Game Scorers:
Gene Englund (Oshkosh All-Stars) 17
Buddy Jeanette (Detroit Eagles ) 14
3rd Place: Long Island Grumman Flyers 43- Harlem Globetrotters 41
5th Place: Aberdeen Army Ordinance Training Center, Sheboygan Redskins, Chicago Bruins, New York Rens
9th Place: Detroit A.A.A., Columbus Bobb Chevrolets, Northern Indiana Steelers, Davenport Central Turner Rockets, Toledo White Huts, Hagerstown Conoco Oilers, Indianapolis Kautskys, Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons

1943
1st Place: Washington D.C. Bears 43- Oshkosh All-Stars 31
MVP- Curly Armstrong (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons)
Leading Championship Game Scorers:
Johnny Isaacs (Washington D.C. Bears) 11
Leroy Edwards (Oshkosh All-Stars) 7
3rd Place: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 58- Dayton Dive Bombers 52
5th Place: Detroit Eagles, Sheboygan Redskins, Harlem Globetrotters, Minneapolis Sparklers
9th Place: Akron Collegians, Indianapolis Pure Oils, Chicago Ramblers, South Bend Studebaker Champions

1944
1st Place: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 50- Brooklyn Eagles 33
MVP- Bobby McDermott (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons)
Leading Championship Game Scorers:
Jake Pellington (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons) 19
Bob Tough & Bernie Opper (Brooklyn Eagles) 11
3rd Place: Harlem Globetrotters 37- New York Rens 29
5th Place: Dayton Aviators, Cleveland Chase Brassmen, Sheboygan Redskins, Oshkosh All-Stars
9th Place: Akron Collegians, Camp Campbell Tankmen, Detroit Suffrins, Indianapolis Pure Oils, Rochester Wings, Pittsburgh Corbetts

1945
1st Place: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 78- Dayton Acmes 52
MVP- Buddy Jeanette (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons)
Leading Championship Game Scorers:
Buddy Jeanette (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons) 18
John Mahnken (Dayton Acmes) 16
3rd Place: Chicago American Gears 64- New York Rens 55
5th Place: Oshkosh All-Stars, Pittsburgh Raiders, Midland Dow Chemicals, Harlem Globetrotters
9th Place: Hartford Nutmegs, Detroit Mansfields, Indianapolis Oilers, Cleveland Allmen Transfers, Newark C-O Twos, Long Island Grumman Hellcats

1946
1st Place: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 73- Oshkosh All-Stars 57
Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 56- Oshkosh All-Stars 47
Oshkosh All-Stars 61- Ft. Wayne Zollner Pistons 59
(Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons wins series 2 games to 1)
MVP- George Mikan (Chicago American Gears )
Leading Championship Game Scorers:
Bobby McDermott (Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons) 20
Leroy Edwards (Oshkosh All-Stars) 24
3rd Place: Chicago American Gears 65- Baltimore Bullets 50
Chicago American Gears 59- Baltimore Bullets 54
(Chicago American Gears wins series 2 games to none)
5th Place: New York Rens, Sheboygan Redskins, Midland Dows, Anderson Chiefs
9th Place: Pittsburgh Raiders, Cleveland Allmen Transfers, Indianapolis Kautskys, Detroit Mansfields, Toledo Whites, Dayton Mickeys

1947
1st Place: Indianapolis Kautskys 62- Toledo Jeeps 47
MVP- Jule Rivlin (Toledo Jeeps)
Leading Championship Game Scorers:
Leo Klier (Indianapolis Kautskys) 12
George Sobek (Toledo Jeeps) 20
3rd Place: Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons 86- Oshkosh All-Stars 67
5th Place: Sheboygan Redskins, Tri-Cities Blackhawks, Anderson Duffey Packers, Midland Dows
9th Place: Herkimer Mohawk Redskins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Syracuse Nationals, Portland Indians, New York Rens, Baltimore Bullets

1948
1st Place: Minneapolis Lakers 75- New York Rens 71
MVP- George Mikan (Minneapolis Lakers)
Leading Championship Game Scorers:
George Mikan (Minneapolis Lakers) 40
Sweetwater Clifton (New York Rens) 24
3rd Place: Anderson Duffey Packers 66- Tri-Cities Blackhawks 44
5th Place: Bridgeport Newfield Steelers, Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, Indianapolis Kautskys, Wilkes-Barre Barons