In early August of 1898, in the office Horace Fogel, the sports editor of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, the first professional basketball league, the National Basketball League, was organized.
Centered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the league's teams stretched from New York City to Central New Jersey, through the Philadelphia area and down to Wilmington, Delaware. On Dec. 1 the first game sees the Trenton Nationals defeat the Hancock Athletic Association. YMCA star Fred Cooper was the coach of the Trenton team and still occasionally performed on the court. He also contributed advice and coached players throughout the circuit on an informal basis.
During the summer of 1903, businessmen representing the Massachusetts Central League, traveled south to Philadelphia with an open checkbook. By the time they headed home they had signed the cream of the National League performers to play in Massachusetts. Nine weeks into the 1903-04 season, the NBL collapsed.