50 YEARS AGO serious pro basketball was born. Or at least they tried to be serious.
To Horace Albert (“bones”) McKinney, listening over the phone in his parlor on Fourth Street in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the words of Arthur Morse sounded just fine. Morse, who was part owner of the Chicago Stags franchise in the brand-new Basketball Association of America (B.A.A.), was saying, “My friend, if Yankee Stadium was built for Babe Ruth, then Chicago Stadium was built for Bones McKinney.”
The Babe and Bones in one mouthful. Not bad, even if Morse was laying it on a bit thick. But in this autumn of 1946 McKinney didn’t mind the blarney. Working as he was in the personnel department of Hanes Hosiery and in off-hours playing for the company basketball team, he found the idea of a pro game appealing. But the prospect of flying to Chicago to wrap the deal—that was another story. If the good Lord had wanted him to fly, Bones liked to say, he’d have provided wings. So McKinney left by train, stopping en route in Washington, D.C.