On Wednesday, June 1, at 4 p.m. PST, the Wende Museum’s Chief Curator and Director of Programming Joes Segal will speak with Kent Washington about his recently published memoir “Kentomania: A Black Basketball Virtuoso in Communist Poland.”
Kent Washington made history by becoming the first American to play professional basketball behind the Iron Curtain. In this memoir, he recounts his journey from grade school, when he was known as Peanut, to become the first Black American to play professionally in the Polish top league.
Kent began to tap into his talent as a basketball player in junior and senior high school in New Rochelle, New York. His obsessive work ethic started to pay dividends as he elevated his game and became an impressive player at Southampton College in Long Island. During a basketball tour of communist Poland with his college in May 1976, Kent took the country by storm and became an overnight sensation.
After finishing his education, he returned to Poland under contract to play professionally. The Polish press dubbed his popularity “Kentomania,” and his fans lined the sidewalks hoping to get into a game to see him play – and to get his autograph.