Harry “Bucky” Lew was the first African-American to play professional basketball. Lew first attracted attention as a teenager with his blazing speed and agility on the court. Despite being a weak shooter, he was still a capable scorer with quick bursts to the basket for layups. When he was just 18 years old, Lew signed with the Lowell PAC of the New England Basketball League team for the 1902-03 season. Before the 1903- 04 season, Lew’s contract was purchased by the Haverhill team in the same league. He enjoyed an outstanding sophomore year as a professional until late in the season when he was slowed by a dislocated shoulder. Lew dislocated his shoulder again  in a collision early the  following season. Although Lew once scored 14 points in a game, a huge number in 1902, he was  not a very good shooter.  He was an excellent passer and showed real skill as a defender. He was particularly adept at guarding some of the league’s faster players such as the famed Harry Hough. Haverhill finished in first place during the first-half of the split season ahead of  the highly favored Natick club that featured Hough and Joe Fogarty. While Lew was generally well-received by fans and players alike, he did face some episodes of discrimination. After some rough early-season matchups, some Natick players protested Lew’s presence in league. President Fred Cunningham quickly fined the Natick team $50 and said there would be no color line in NEBA. The same two teams met in the playoffs, with Natick winning the championship without any further incidents. In the end, Lew’s professional career was cut short not by prejudice, but by harsh realities of early professional basketball. The NEBA, dependent on highly-paid stars from Philadelphia, disappeared under a sea of red ink after the 1904-05 season. Major-league basketball in New England did not take hold until after World War II. Lew remained in the Lowell area where he was a popular figure on semi-professional teams until the early 1920’s.


BUCKY LEW Height: 5:07 Weight: 150 College: None
Harry H. Lew Born: Jan 4,1884 Died: Oct 22, 1963 Hometown: Lowell, Ma.
Year Team League     GA FGM  FTM   FTA  PCT.  AST  PTS AVG
1901-02 Lowell AAU
1902-03 Lowell PAC NEBL 36 41 0 82 2.3
1903-04 Haverhill NEBL 67 118 0 236 3.5
1904-05 Haverhill NEBA 47 51 0 102 2.2
1905-06 Peabody NEL 3 2 0 4 1.3
1905-06 Lowell Indep
1906-07 Springfield (Vt) Indep
1907-08 Lowell Indep
1908-09 Lowell NEL 1 2 0 4 4.0
1909-10 Lowell Five Indep
1910-11 Lowell Five Indep
1911-12 Lowell Five Indep
1912-13 Lowell Five Indep
1913-14 Lowell Five Indep
1914-15 Lowell Five Indep
1915-16 Lowell CML
1916-17 Lowell Five Indep
1917-18 Lowell Five Indep
1918-19 Lowell Five Indep
1919-20 Lowell Five Indep
1920-21 Lowell Five Indep
1921-22 Lowell Five Indep
Major League Totals 150 210 0 420 2.8
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