|Born||August 30, 1917|
|Died||December 1, 1999 (aged 82)|
New York City, New York
|Listed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Listed weight||205 lb (93 kg)|
|High school||Benjamin Franklin|
(Harlem, New York)
|1937–1938||New York Harlem Yankees|
|New York Renaissance|
|1941–1946||Washington Licthman Bears|
|1944–1946||Long Island Grumman Hellcats|
|1947–1949||New York Rens|
|1951–1952||New York Celtics|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
William Penn "Pop" Gates (August 30, 1917 – December 1, 1999) was an American professional basketball player.
He was born in Decatur, Alabama and attended high school in New York, New York. During high school studies he earned All-Conference honors in both 1937 and 1938 and made the All-City first team in 1938, as well as won 3 All-City titles with YMCA teams. Some later newspaper publications claimed that Gates graduated from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University), but in fact his professional basketball career started right after graduating from Franklin High School.
Gates started his professional basketball career with the New York Renaissance, beginning in 1938–39. "Seven months before Jackie Robinson made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Leo Ferris helped usher in a new era of racial integration for professional basketball when he signed Pop Gates, who made his debut for the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in October 1946.
Gates, along with William "Dolly" King, were the first two African-American players in the National Basketball League (NBL) in 1946. "When Leo Ferris came to me, it was like a godsend", Gates was quoted as saying in the book "Pioneers of the Hardwood: Indiana and the Birth of Professional Basketball." "It was a real highlight of my career to be accepted by the NBL as one of only two blacks in the league."
Later Gates played for and coached the Harlem Globetrotters. He is one of the few athletes who went directly from a high school championship team (Benjamin Franklin, New York, 1938) to a world professional champion (New York Rens, 1939).
Gates was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1989.