The Buffalo Germans

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Legendary Professional Basketball Team

The legend of the Buffalo Germans is not likely to be forgotten. Maybe it was their record 111 straight victories, which surpasses the modern National Basketball Association record by a mere 78 games. Or maybe it was their total 34-season record of 761-85, good for a mere .900 winning percentage. Or maybe it was the team loyalty (in 1916, four original members had played over 20 years together). Whatever the reason, the Buffalo Germans are arguably the greatest basketball team of all time.

The history of the Buffalo Germans actually traces back to the very inventor of the game, Dr. James Naismith. One of Naismith’s pupils, and a participant in the Naismith’s first basketball game, F.W. Burkhardt, was named physical director at the Genesee Street YMCA in Buffalo in 1895. Soon after his arrival in Buffalo, Burkhardt formed a junior team in the fledgling sport, and the Buffalo Germans were formed.

In 1898, after three years of dominance in the junior ranks, not only winning the title each year but never once losing a game, the young Germans entered the area men’s league. By 1900, the Buffalo Germans were a mere 48-4 in men’s league play. The following year, the Pan-American Exposition came to Buffalo along with the first National Basketball Tournament. Heavy underdogs throughout the tournament, the Germans nonetheless won every game they played en route to becoming the nation’s best. In 1904, in St. Louis, these amazing young men equaled the feat, again not dropping a single game.

From 1908-11, the Germans astounded the nation with its famed 111-game winning streak. Called by observers as “the most wonderful athletic machine in the world,” the legendary team known as the Buffalo Germans would later become one of only four teams inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachesetts.