The Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team. They combine athleticism, theater, and comedy in their style of play. Over the years, they have played more than 26,000 exhibition games in 124 countries and territories. The team's signature song is Brother Bones' whistled version of "Sweet Georgia Brown". Their mascot is an anthropomorphized globe named Globie. The team plays over 450 live events worldwide each year. The team is currently owned by Herschend Family Entertainment. The executive offices for the team are located in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree Corners.
|History||1926–27: Chicago GlobeTrotters|
1928–29: New York Harlem Globetrotters
1929–present: Harlem Globetrotters
|Location||Corporate office in Atlanta suburb of Peachtree Corners |
International satellite office in Beijing
|Team colors||Blue, red, white|
|Head coach||Jimmy Blacklock (coach)|
Lou Dunbar (coach)
Barry Hardy (coach)
|Ownership||Herschend Family Entertainment|
The Globetrotters originated on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, in the 1920s, where all the original players were raised. The Globetrotters began as the Savoy Big Five, one of the premier attractions of the Savoy Ballroom opened in January 1928, a basketball team of African-American players that played exhibitions before dances due to declining dance attendance. In 1928, several players left the team in a dispute. That autumn, those players, led by Tommy Brookins, formed a team called the "Globe Trotters" and toured Southern Illinois that spring. Abe Saperstein became involved with the team as its manager and promoter. By 1929, Saperstein was touring Illinois and Iowa with his basketball team called the "New York Harlem Globe Trotters". Saperstein selected Harlem, New York, New York, as their home city since Harlem was considered the center of African-American culture at the time and an out-of-town team name would give the team more of a mystique. In fact, the Globetrotters did not play in Harlem until 1968, four decades after the team's formation.
The Globetrotters were perennial participants in the World Professional Basketball Tournament, winning it in 1940. In a heavily attended matchup a few years later, the 1948 Globetrotters–Lakers game, the Globetrotters made headlines when they beat one of the best white basketball teams in the country, the Minneapolis Lakers (now the Los Angeles Lakers). The Globetrotters continued to easily win games due to Harlem owning the entire talent pool consisting of the best black basketball players of the country at the time. Once one of the most famous teams in the country, the Globetrotters were eventually eclipsed by the rise of the National Basketball Association, particularly when NBA teams began fielding African-American players in the 1950s. In 1950, Harlem Globetrotter Chuck Cooper became the first black player to be drafted in the NBA by Boston and teammate Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton became the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract when the New York Knicks purchased his contract from the Globetrotters for $12,500 (Harlem getting $10,000 and Clifton getting $2,500.
The Globetrotters gradually worked comic routines into their act—a direction the team has credited to Reece "Goose" Tatum, who joined in 1941—and eventually became known more for entertainment than sports. The Globetrotters' acts often feature incredible coordination and skillful handling of one or more basketballs, such as passing or juggling balls between players, balancing or spinning balls on their fingertips, and making unusually difficult shots.
In 1952, the Globetrotters invited Louis "Red" Klotz to create a team to accompany them on their tours. This team, the Washington Generals (who also played under various other names), became the Globetrotters' primary opponents. The Generals are effectively stooges for the Globetrotters, with the Globetrotters handily defeating them in thousands of games.
In 1959, the Globetrotters played nine games in Moscow after Saperstein received an invitation from Vasily Gricorevich, the director of Lenin Central Stadium. The team, which included Wilt Chamberlain, was welcomed enthusiastically by spectators and authorities; they met Premier Nikita Khrushchev and collectively received the Athletic Order of Lenin medal.
However, according to one report, spectators were initially confused: "A Soviet audience of 14,000 sat almost silently, as if in awe, through the first half of the game. It warmed up slightly in the second half when it realized the Trotters are more show than competition." The Globetrotters brought their own opponent—not the Washington Generals, but the San Francisco Chinese Basketeers. A review in Pravda stated, "This is not basketball; it is too full of tricks" but praised the Globetrotters' skills and suggested that "they have some techniques to show us." The American press—particularly Drew Pearson—made note of the fact that the Globetrotters were paid (per game) the equivalent of $4,000, which could be spent only in Moscow. The games were used as evidence that U.S.–Soviet relations were improving, that Moscow was backing off its criticism of race relations inside America, and that the USSR was becoming more capitalist (Pearson suggested that the games were held because Lenin Stadium needed money).
Many famous basketball players have played for the Globetrotters. Greats such as "Wee" Willie Gardner, Connie "The Hawk" Hawkins, Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain, and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton later went on to join the NBA. The Globetrotters signed their first female player, Olympic gold medalist Lynette Woodard, in 1985. The Globetrotters have featured thirteen female players in their history. Baseball Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Bob Gibson, and Ferguson Jenkins also played for the team at one time or another. Because nearly all of the team's players have historically been African American, and as a result of the buffoonery involved in many of the Globetrotters' skits, they drew some criticism during the Civil Rights era. The players were accused by some civil-rights advocates of "Tomming for Abe", a reference to Uncle Tom and Jewish owner Abe Saperstein. However, prominent civil rights activist Jesse Jackson (who would later be named an Honorary Globetrotter) came to their defense by stating, "I think they've been a positive influence... They did not show blacks as stupid. On the contrary, they were shown as superior." In 1995, Orlando Antigua became the first Hispanic player on the team. He was the first non-black player on the Globetrotters' roster since Bob Karstens played with the squad in 1942–43.
While parts of a modern exhibition game are pre-planned, the games themselves are not fixed. While their opponents do not interfere with the Globetrotters’ hijinks while on defense, they play a serious game when in possession of the ball and about 20 to 30 percent of a game is "real". This once led to an infamous defeat at the hands of the Washington Generals in 1971, to the distress of the watching crowd, after the Globetrotters lost track of a big lead with their tricks and the Generals hit a game-winning buzzer-beater.
Harlem Globetrotters roster
Starting in 2007, the Globetrotters have conducted an annual "draft" a few days before the NBA draft, in which they select players they feel fit the mold of a Globetrotter. Being drafted by the Globetrotters does not guarantee a spot on the team, although several drafted players have gone on to become Globetrotters: Anthony "Ant" Atkinson (2007), Brent Petway (2007), William "Bull" Bullard (2008), Tay "Firefly" Fisher (2008), Charlie Coley III (2009), Paul "Tiny" Sturgess (2011), Jacob "Hops" Tucker (2011), Darnell "Spider" Wilks (2011), Bryan "B-Nice" Narcisse (2012), Tyrone Davis (2013), Corey "Thunder" Law (2013), Tyler "Iceman" Inman (2014) Devan "Beast" Douglas (2016) and AJ "Money" Merriweather.
Other notable draft picks by the Globetrotters include: Sun Mingming (2007), Patrick Ewing, Jr. (2008), Sonny Weems (2008), Taylor Griffin (2009), Tim Howard (2009), Mark Titus (2010), Lionel Messi (2011), Andrew Goudelock (2011), Usain Bolt (2012), Mariano Rivera (2013), Brittney Griner (2013), Johnny Manziel (2014), Landon Donovan (2014), Mo'ne Davis (2015), Dude Perfect (2015), Neymar (2016), Missy Franklin (2016), Jordan Spieth (2016), Craig Sager (2016), Gal Gadot (2017), Aaron Judge (2017), Tim Tebow (2017) Paul Pogba (2018), and Joseph Kilgore (2018).
The Globetrotters have honored seven players by retiring their numbers:
The Harlem Globetrotters have been featured in several of their own films and television series:
Ten people have been officially named as honorary members of the team:
In addition Bill Cosby (1972) and Magic Johnson (2003) were each signed to honorary $1-a-year lifetime contracts with the Globetrotters. When Cosby's nominal association with the team was the subject of criticism following sexual assault allegations, the Globetrotters stated that they had had no association with him for decades.
Abraham Michael Saperstein (July 4, 1902 – March 15, 1966) was the founder, owner and earliest coach of the Harlem Globetrotters. Saperstein was a leading figure in black basketball and baseball in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, primarily before those sports were racially integrated.Saperstein revolutionized the game of basketball and took the Globetrotters from an unknown team touring small farm towns in the Midwestern United States during the height of the Great Depression to a powerhouse that went on to beat the best team in the all-white National Basketball Association. He also introduced the three-point shot, which went on to become a mainstay of modern basketball.Saperstein was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971 and, at 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m), is its shortest male member. In 1979, he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and 2005 was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.Barnstorm (sports)
In athletics terminology, barnstorming refers to sports teams or individual athletes that travel to various locations, usually small towns, to stage exhibition matches. Barnstorming teams differ from traveling teams in that they operate outside the framework of an established athletic league, while traveling teams are designated by a league, formally or informally, to be a designated visiting team.Barnstorming allowed athletes to compete in two sports; for example, Goose Reece Tatum played basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters and baseball for a Negro Leagues barnstorming team. Some barnstorming teams lack home arenas, while others go on "barnstorming tours" in the off-season.Harlem Globetrotters (TV series)
Harlem Globetrotters (called Harlem Globe Trotters in the opening titles) is a Saturday morning cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera and CBS Productions, featuring animated versions of players from the famous basketball team, Harlem Globetrotters.
Broadcast from September 12, 1970, to September 2, 1972 on CBS Saturday Morning, repeated from September 10, 1972 to May 20, 1973 on CBS Sunday Morning, and later re-run from February 4 to September 2, 1978 on NBC as The Go-Go Globetrotters, the show featured George "Meadowlark" Lemon, Freddie "Curly" Neal, Hubert "Geese" Ausbie, J.C. "Gip" Gipson, Bobby Joe Mason, and Paul "Pablo" Robertson, all in animated form, alongside their fictional bus driver and manager, Granny, and their dog mascot, Dribbles. (Guard Leon Hillard was originally planned to be on the series, but was cut out of the cast prior to the start of production.)
The series worked to a formula where the team travels somewhere and typically get involved in a local conflict that leads to one of the Globetrotters proposing a basketball game to settle the issue. To ensure the Globetrotters' defeat, the villains rig the contest; however, before the second half of the contest, the team always finds a way to even the odds, become all but invincible, and win the game.Herbert "Flight Time" Lang
Herbert "Flight Time" Lang (born August 1, 1976) is an American basketball player for the Harlem Globetrotters.John Isaacs
John William Isaacs (September 15, 1915 – January 26, 2009) was an African-American professional basketball player. Born in Panama but raised in New York City, he was a member of the New York Renaissance, the Washington Bears, and various other teams.Kris Bruton
Kris Marcus Bruton (born January 10, 1971) is an American professional basketball player. Drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 1994 NBA Draft, he was with the Bulls for two pre-seasons (1994 and 1995) before a serious thigh injury ended his career. Bruton never appeared in a regular-season NBA game for the Bulls. After recuperating, he was recruited by the Harlem Globetrotters, the sports entertainment legend. He is currently playing his tenth season with the Globetrotters, and has carved a niche on the court as a slam dunk expert.Mannie Jackson
Mannie Jackson (born May 4, 1939) is the chairman and owner of the Harlem Globetrotters, for whom he played from 1962 to 1964. He was the first African American with controlling ownership in an entertainment organization and international sports. Jackson has been heavily recognized throughout his career including an acknowledgment as one of the nation's 30 most powerful and influential black corporate executives, one of the nation's top 50 corporate strategists, and one of the 20 African-American high-net-worth entrepreneurs.Marques Haynes
Marques Haynes (March 10, 1926 – May 22, 2015) was an American professional basketball player and member of the Harlem Globetrotters, notable for his remarkable ability to dribble the ball and keep it away from defenders. According to the 1988 film Harlem Globetrotters: Six Decades of Magic, Haynes could dribble the ball as many as 348 times a minute.Matthew P. Kennedy
Matthew P. "Pat" Kennedy (January 28, 1908 – June 16, 1957) was an American basketball referee.
A native of Hoboken, New Jersey, Kennedy officiated over 4,000 games from the 1928 to 1957. He worked for the NBA, NCAA, and Harlem Globetrotters and became well known for his intense, theatrical style of calling plays. He also coached the Harlem Globetrotters. Kennedy was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959, becoming the first referee to earn such honors.Meadowlark Lemon
Meadow Lemon III (April 25, 1932 – December 27, 2015), known professionally as Meadowlark Lemon, was an American basketball player, actor, and Christian minister (ordained in 1986). From 1994, he served Meadowlark Lemon Ministries in Scottsdale, Arizona. For 22 years, he was known as the "Clown Prince" of the touring Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. He played in more than 16,000 games for the Globetrotters and was a 2003 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
When basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain was asked his opinion on the best player of all time, he responded, "For me it would be Meadowlark Lemon." Fellow Wilmington great Michael Jordan called Lemon a "true national treasure" and a personal inspiration in Jordan's youth.Milton L. Banks
Milton Leon Banks (October 17, 1958 – July 18, 2007), was an American basketball player best known for his seasons spent touring with the Harlem Globetrotters. He started his basketball career at Cal-Poly in 1979, he was a member of several 3x3 (basketball), or Hoop-it-up championship teams, Dino Smiley's Drew League, and was named to the Venice Beach's basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 along the likes of Kobe Bryant.Nathaniel "Big Easy" Lofton
Nathaniel "Big Easy" Lofton (born April 15, 1981) is an American basketball player for the Harlem Globetrotters. He and his fellow Globetrotter Herbert "Flight Time" Lang are known for their participation in three seasons of The Amazing Race.
Nate played collegiate basketball for the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions.Nutter Center
The Wright State University Nutter Center (originally Ervin J. Nutter Center and commonly Nutter Center) is a multi-purpose arena located at Wright State University, in the Dayton, Ohio suburb of Fairborn. In addition to hosting the Wright State Raiders basketball team, the Nutter Center serves as a music venue for touring concerts and shows. High schools in the area also commonly use the arena to host graduation ceremonies.Pop Gates
William Penn "Pop" Gates (August 30, 1917 – December 1, 1999) was an American professional basketball player.Sweet Georgia Brown
"Sweet Georgia Brown" is a jazz standard and pop tune composed in 1925 by Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard, with lyrics by Kenneth Casey.The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine
The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine was a Saturday morning variety show featuring players from the basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters singing, dancing, and performing comedy sketches. Broadcast in 1974, it was produced by Funhouse Productions for Viacom Productions.The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island
The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island is a 1981 made-for-television comedy film. It is the third of three movies that reunited the cast of the 1964–67 sitcom Gilligan's Island. The film aired on NBC on May 15, 1981.Washington Generals
The Washington Generals are an American basketball team who play exhibition games against the Harlem Globetrotters. The team has also played under several different aliases in their history as the Globetrotters' perennial opponents.Zack Clayton
Zachariah "Zack" Clayton was a basketball player for the New York Rens. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.As a boy, Clayton played at the Christian Street YMCA along with Charles "Tarzan" Cooper, Jackie Bethards and Bill Yancey. There they began four fruitful careers on a squad called the Tribune Men. Clayton also played for the Harlem Globetrotters. Clayton would win world championships with both teams. Clayton is enshrined in the Philadelphia basketball Hall of Fame. Clayton later became a boxing referee. His most famous bout the 1974 Ali-Foreman "Rumble In The Jungle". Clayton also refereed Muhammad Ali's last fight against Trevor Berbick in 1981.
|Harlem Globetrotters retired numbers|
|13||Wilt Chamberlain||1958–59||March 9, 2000|
|20||Marques Haynes||1947–53, 1972–79||January 5, 2001|
|22||Fred "Curly" Neal||1963–85||February 15, 2008|
|34||Charles "Tex" Harrison||1954–72||December 26, 2017|
|35||Hubert "Geese" Ausbie||1961–85||January 31, 2017|
|36||Meadowlark Lemon||1954–79, 1993||January 5, 2001|
|50||Goose Tatum||1941–43, 1945–55||February 8, 2002|
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2002
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(NCAA Division III)
Main article: Sports in the New York metropolitan area
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