Akron Wingfoots

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Akron Wingfoots
  • Independent 1918–22
  • Amateur Athletic Union 1923–30
  • National Basketball League 1932–33
  • Midwest Basketball Conference 1936–37
  • NBL 1937–42
  • Suspended due to World War II 1942–46
  • NIBL 1946–61
  • National AAU Basketball League 1966–70
  • Independent 1973–80
  • AAU Elite: 1980–present
Founded 1918
Arena Akron Goodyear Hall (4.000)
Team colors White, Yellow, & Blue
Championships 1 National Basketball League Championships (1938)
3 Intercontinental Cup (1967, 1968, 1969)
1 MC (1936)
1 National Industrial League (1932)
2 AAU National Tournament (1964,1967)
3 National AAU Basketball League (1967, 1968, 1969)

The Akron Wingfoots are one of the oldest basketball teams in the United States. They were founded in 1918 by the workers at the Goodyear Tire Company in Akron, Ohio. The teams, while giving workers recreation, also helped to promote one of the first canvas/rubber based shoes made specifically for athletics, the wingfoot.


1931–37: Post AAU era

The Wingfoots joined the National Basketball League for the 1932-1933 season playing against strong teams like Indianapolis Kautskys and Akron Firestones (the latter were crowned champions).[1] They moved to the Midwest Basketball Conference in 1936 (Chicago Duffy Florals were the reigning champions) facing teams such as Indianapolis Kautskys, Harlem Globetrotters, Sheboygan Red Skins and the New York Renaissance. They won the league title in 1937 defeating Fort Wayne in a best of three games series sweep.

1937–42: NBL success

In the late 1930s, Goodyear, Firestone, General Electric, and other companies with similar Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Elite teams decided to form the National Basketball League (NBL) to showcase their teams (it was actually the MBC changed names to the NBL).[2] The Wingfoots won the first NBL title in 1938. During the 1938–1939 season, the Akron Goodyear Wingfoots finished second in the National Basketball League's Eastern Division. The team finished behind the Akron Firestone Non-Skids, another team from Akron, each season. However, the Wingfoots did capture the league's first championship after an impressive playoff run. During the 1939–1940 season, the Wingfoots finished third in the Eastern Division, winning exactly fifty percent of the team's games. During the next season, the squad finished next to last in the National Basketball League. During the 1941–1942 season, the Akron Goodyear Wingfoots experienced a turnaround, finishing third in the National Basketball League. The team, however, lost in the first round of the playoffs. The team began the 1942–1943 season, but poor performance on the court and a declining number of men available to play due to World War II caused the Akron Goodyear Wingfoots to cease operation before the season's end.

1946–61: NIBL

The Akron Goodyear Wingfoots joined the National Industrial Basketball League in 1946 and became an integrated part of the league. They never met any success as the Bartlesville Phillips 66ers dominated the titles. Their record in 15 seasons was 126 wins and 139 losses.

1961–73: NABL and Intercontinental Cups

The team was not part of the BAA and NBL merger that created the NBA. Instead, they reconstituted those NBL teams left over into the National Industrial Basketball League. The Wingfoots regained national power in the NIBL, which in 1960, was changed to the National Alliance of Basketball Leagues. They joined the NABL in the 1960s and continued played until the late 1970s, representing the US basketball to the Intercontinental Cup organized by FIBA. In 1964 they won their first AAU Tournament after beating their bitter rivals Phillips 66ers in the final, and they did again in 1967.


Always a stepping stone for new leagues such as the NBA, the American Basketball League (ABL), and the American Basketball Association (ABA), the Wingfoots stopped playing a national schedule in the mid 1970s, and after the NABL was dropped in favor of touring teams, Goodyear Tire stopped sponsoring the team.
In the 1980s team sponsorship was picked up by Tom Ficara and Reach Entertainment, and the team today plays year-round all over the world. The Wingfoots are the only AAU Elite team that still plays a full college schedule. Although the team has not yet returned to its previous glory, it has again started playing in the historic AAU National Tournament.

Akron Wingfoots Finals

NBL Finals

AAU Tournaments

Intercontinental Cups

Akron Goodyear Wingfoots (Henry Hank Vaughn): Vern Benson 3, Jim Rayl 20, Jay Miller 22, Jim King 2, Mike McCoy 13 - Calvin Fowler 4, Ed Corell 6, Dan Anderson 6, Mike Dabich 2)

Akron Goodyear Wingfoots (Henry Hank Vaughn): Calvin Fowler 22, Jerry Curless 8, Jim King 12, Tom Duff 10, Tom Black 14 - Dennis Berholtz 6, Randy Berentz 20, Gary Williams 2, John Schroeder 4, Mike Patterson 5, Ed McKae 2

Akron Goodyear Wingfoots (Henry Hank Vaughn): Pete Cunningham 12, Jerry Curless 8, Randy Berentz 16, Mike Patterson 9, Grady Norman 14 - John Schroeder 2, Stewart 9, Worstell 8, Gallagher 2, Fonts 4

NBL Seasons

Stagione League Name V P % Standings Play-offs
1937-38 NBL Akron Goodyear Wingfoots 13 5 72,2 Champions
1938-39 NBL Akron Goodyear Wingfoots 14 14 50,0 -
1939-40 NBL Akron Goodyear Wingfoots 14 14 50,0 -
1940-41 NBL Akron Goodyear Wingfoots 11 13 45,8 -
1941-42 NBL Akron Goodyear Wingfoots 15 9 62,5 Semifinals


The Akron Wingfoots won the Intercontinental Cup 3 times (1967, 1968, 1969) against Spartak Brno, Ignis Varese and Real Madrid. They were also the first winner of the National Basketball League which later formed the NBA.

Notable players

Several players of Wingfoots represented the USA team in the Olympics, the Pan American Games and the FIBA World Cups.Here is the list and the games played for the national team are in brackets.

Calvin B. Fowler was the captain of the United States gold medal basketball team at the 1967 Pan American Games. He played for the Wingfoots for 10 years (1960–1970) and he was an active international player between 1967 and 1968.

Pete McCaffrey played for the gold medal-winning United States men's national basketball team at the 1964 Summer Olympics. He also played at the 1963 FIBA World Championship where the United States finished fourth.

After playing for the Wingfoots in 1961 Adrian Smith signed for Cincinnati Royals where he stayed for 8 seasons. He was selected to the 1966 NBA All-Star Game and, he was named MVP after he scored 24 points in 26 minutes. In the 1969–70 season, after 32 games with the Royals, Smith was traded to the San Francisco Warriors, In 1971–72 he played for the American Basketball Association's Virginia Squires. He played for 1960 USA Olympic basketball team, all the players of whom -including Smith- was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Akron Wingfoots players in the USA Team

Other notable players


  1. ^ http://www.apbr.org/nbl3233.html
  2. ^ http://nbahoopsonline.com/History/Leagues/NBL/Teams/Akron/index.html
  3. ^ http://www.apbr.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=5579
  4. ^ http://www.linguasport.com/baloncesto/internacional/clubes/intercontinental/IC_69.htm
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