Raising awareness

STEVE BUFFERY and MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Raptors' Eric Williams is on a mission to educate the public about Black League Basketball, a professional hoops association that existed from 1920-40.

While most sports fans have heard of the old Negro Baseball League, far fewer have heard of the BLB.

His clothing firm, Eric Williams Apparel, will be marketing a number of BLB jackets and shirts, including a jacket with the crests of the 12 teams from the defunct league, including the Detroit Engineers, Brownsville Bears, Baltimore Crabs, Camden Earls, Harlem Knights, Newark Eagles, West Philly Dancers, Chicago SouthSiders, Cleveland Ebonies, Gary Steelmen, Roxbury Patriots and the Washington Reps.

Williams is planning to make a short film about the league to raise awareness. He also plans to give high-profile NBAers who hail from the various cities which once had teams in the BLB jackets, including an Engineers coat to Detroit native Jalen Rose, a Cleveland Ebonies jacket to Ohio native LeBron James and a Harlem Knights jacket to Raptors rookie Charlie Villanueva, who hails from New York City.

WELCOME BACK DONYELL

The Raptors reflected on their non-glorious past last night and presented Donyell Marshall with an engraved basketball for tying the NBA record for three-pointers in a game last season against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Now playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Marshall didn't exactly leave a legacy in Toronto and left as a free agent after two seasons. But to his credit, he played hard and was a clutch shooter.

THERE IS HOPE

The Raptors, who entered the game last night with a record of 0-3, can be heartened by one meaningless fact. The only other time the Raptors started the season 0-3 was in 2000-01 when the team ended up finishing with a franchise-best 47-35 record and went on to win the only playoff series in team history.

GOING TO SCHOOL

Raptors' Joey Graham, Mike James and Matt Bonner will visit the kids Fairbank Memorial Community School today as part of the Read to Achieve program.


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