Did you know that around the time the National Basketball Association was created there were multiple basketball leagues across the country and many more teams? In fact in Joplin there was a team called the TAMKO Roofers. The TAMKO Roofers played for five seasons in the late 1940s and early 1950s as an independent basketball team sponsored by TAMKO. Then decades after they had their hay-day they received recognition by being inducted into the Joplin Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, May 16th 2013. This was a special moment for both TAMKO and the players from this team which honored their abilities and skills.
When the NBA first started the number of basketball teams was greater and it was possible for small communities to field teams with talent. Unlike today where every franchise is a worth millions, back then things were smaller and simpler. The Roofers, as they were most commonly referred to, were one of the most elite independent/town teams during that era. They traveled all over to play games in the Joplin YMCA league and their win percentage was staggeringly high.
It’s not too surprising that they had such success when you consider the TAMKO roster contained college standouts and other prep stars, essentially every member of the team was a skilled athlete. In fact, this basketball team was just the beginning of their careers. After the team disbanded two members went on to play MLB and another was drafted by the NBA. Talk about having a lot of talent on a team. One of the team’s biggest highlights was its one point win over the Harlem Globetrotters who were renowned for the skills.
If it weren’t for their induction into Joplin’s Sports Hall of Fame the team may have been entirely forgotten, but fortunately people will now know more about the early history of basketball and the TAMKO Roofers existence.