The World Professional Basketball Tournament was an invitational tournament held in Chicago and sponsored by the Chicago Herald American. The annual event was held from 1939 to 1948, and the winner was generally acknowledged as the World Champions of basketball. Many teams came from the National Basketball League, but it also included the best teams from other leagues and the best independent barnstorming teams such as the New York Rens and Harlem Globetrotters. Games were played at various sites including Chicago Coliseum, International Amphitheater and Chicago Stadium.
The NBL champion usually won this tournament, with three exceptions: the New York Rens won the first WPBT in 1939, while the Harlem Globetrotters—a strongly competitive squad in those days—won the following year. In 1943, the Washington Bears (with many New York Rens players on their roster) won the tournament. The NBL's Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons won the most titles (three, from 1944–46), while the NBL's Oshkosh All-Stars made the most finals appearances with five, winning only once (in 1942). The tournament disbanded in 1949, after the BAA and NBL merged to form the NBA.