Harlem Globetrotters

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Harlem Globetrotters
Harlem Globetrotters logo
LeaguesIndependent
Founded1927
HistoryChicago GlobeTrotters
1926–1927
New York Harlem Globetrotters
1928–1929
Harlem Globetrotters
1929–present
ArenaBarnstorming team
LocationHarlem, New York (front office in Phoenix, Arizona)
Team colorsBlue, Red, White
              
PresidentKurt Schneider (CEO)
Jeff Munn (COO)
Nickolas Cardinale (GM)
Head coachJimmy Blacklock (Coach)
Lou Dunbar (Coach)
Barry Hardy (Coach)
Tex Harrison (Consultant)
WebsiteOfficial website
Uniforms
Kit body thinredsides.png
Home jersey
Kit shorts globetrotters.png
Team colours
Home
Kit body thinbluesides.png
Away jersey
Kit shorts.png
Team colours
Away
 
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Harlem Globetrotters
Harlem Globetrotters logo
LeaguesIndependent
Founded1927
HistoryChicago GlobeTrotters
1926–1927
New York Harlem Globetrotters
1928–1929
Harlem Globetrotters
1929–present
ArenaBarnstorming team
LocationHarlem, New York (front office in Phoenix, Arizona)
Team colorsBlue, Red, White
              
PresidentKurt Schneider (CEO)
Jeff Munn (COO)
Nickolas Cardinale (GM)
Head coachJimmy Blacklock (Coach)
Lou Dunbar (Coach)
Barry Hardy (Coach)
Tex Harrison (Consultant)
WebsiteOfficial website
Uniforms
Kit body thinredsides.png
Home jersey
Kit shorts globetrotters.png
Team colours
Home
Kit body thinbluesides.png
Away jersey
Kit shorts.png
Team colours
Away

The Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team that combines athleticism, theater, and comedy. The executive offices for the team are located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona; the team is owned by Herschend Family Entertainment.

Over the years they have played more than 20,000 exhibition games in 120 countries. Brother Bones's whistled version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" is the team's signature song. "Globie" has been their mascot since 1993.

In October 2013, Shamrock Holdings sold the team for an undisclosed amount of money.[1]

History[edit]

The official history[2] contains several details which seem contradictory, such as the team being organized in 1926 in Chicago's Savoy Ballroom, which opened in 1927.[3] What is clear is that the genesis of the Globetrotters took place on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, in the 1920s, where all the original players grew up. Most of the players also attended Wendell Phillips High School. When the Savoy Ballroom opened in November 1927, one of the premier attractions was the Savoy Big Five, a basketball team that played exhibitions before dances. Hinckley, Illinois, was home to the first Harlem Globetrotters game on January 7, 1927.[4] In 1928, several players left the team in a dispute over bringing back other players who had left the team. That fall, several players led by Tommy Brookins formed a team called the "Globe Trotters" that toured Southern Illinois that spring. Abe Saperstein became involved with the team, though exactly to what extent is unclear. In any event, by 1929 Saperstein was touring Illinois and Iowa with his basketball team called the "New York Harlem Globe Trotters." Saperstein decided to pick Harlem 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.[5] After four decades, the Globetrotters played their first "home" game in Harlem in 1968.

Moscow games[edit]

In 1959, the Globetrotters played nine games in Moscow after Saperstein received an invitation from Vasily Gricorevich, the director of Lenin Central Stadium.[6] The team, which included Wilt Chamberlain, was welcomed enthusiastically by spectators and authorities; they met Premier Nikita Khrushchev[7] and collectively received the Athletic Order of Lenin medal.[8] (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.")[9] The Globetrotters brought their own opponent—not the Washington Generals, but the San Francisco Chinese Basketeers.[6] 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."[10]

The American press—particularly Drew Pearson—made note of the fact that the Globetrotters were paid (per game) the equivalent of $4000, 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).[11][12]

Finding success[edit]

Globetrotters player Meadowlark Lemon presenting a ball signed by the team to First Lady Betty Ford in 1974.

The Globetrotters were perennial participants in the World Professional Basketball Tournament, winning it in 1940. Once one of the best teams in the country, the Globetrotters were eclipsed by the rise of the National Basketball Association, particularly when NBA teams began fielding African-American players in the 1950s. The Globetrotters gradually worked comic routines into their act until they 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 unusual, difficult shots.

Among the players who have been Globetrotters are NBA greats Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain, Connie "The Hawk" Hawkins, and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton as well as Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon, Jerome James, Reece "Goose" Tatum, and Hubert "Geese" Ausbie. Another popular team member in the 1970s and 1980s was Fred "Curly" Neal, who was the best dribbler of that era of the team's history and was immediately recognizable owing to his shaven head. Baseball Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins also played for the team at one time or another. In 1985, the Globetrotters signed their first female player, Olympic gold medalist Lynette Woodard, and their second, Joyce Walker, just three weeks later.

Because almost all of its players have been African American, and because of the buffoonery involved in many of the Globetrotters' skits, they drew some criticism in the Civil Rights era. The players were derisively accused[by whom?] of "Tomming for Abe," a reference to Uncle Tom and white 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."[citation needed] In 1995, Orlando Antigua became the first Hispanic and the first nonblack on the Globetrotters' roster since Bob Karstens played with the squad in 1942–43.[13]

Winning streaks and rare defeats[edit]

Globetrotters playing with spectators

One of the original losses for the Globetrotters was to the Sheldon Orabs, who were led by William DeKraai in the 1940s. In January 1952, the Harlem Globetrotters lost to the Seattle University Chieftains (now Redhawks) in an upset, 84–81.[14] After a loss to the Washington Generals in 1962 alleged by Generals owner Red Klotz, the Harlem Globetrotters lost only three more games in the next 50 years (5,983 games). Usually they played a "stooge" team owned by Red Klotz, which also appeared as the Boston Shamrocks, New Jersey Reds, Baltimore Rockets, or Atlantic City Seagulls. On January 5, 1971, they lost in Martin, Tennessee, to the New Jersey Reds 100–99 in overtime; that ended an alleged 2,495-game winning streak (which would mean that the Globetrotters were playing 277 games per year up until that date). Another loss came against the Elmwood Yellow Jackets.[15] The Globetrotters ended up losing after three over-times 36–34.

In addition to their hundreds of exhibition games, the Globetrotters slowly returned to competitive basketball after 1993 under the new ownership of former player Mannie Jackson.[16] On September 12, 1995, they lost 91–85 to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's All Star Team in Vienna, Austria, ending an alleged run of 8,829 straight victories going back to 1971. The 48-year-old Abdul-Jabbar scored 34 points. The 8,829 games in twenty-four years would mean the Globetrotters were playing nearly 368 games per year, or more than one game a day some days, for twenty-four years. This is because multiple team lineups tour as The Globetrotters to allow for a greater number of exhibitions.[17] The Globetrotters won the other 10 games during that European tour. Five years later, following another 1,270 wins, they lost 72–68 to Michigan State University, the reigning men's collegiate champions, on November 13, 2000.

Two years later, they "set aside the hallmarks" for a "three-week, no-nonsense tour against college teams" from men's Division One. "There are no ballhandling displays to the tune of "Sweet Georgia Brown," no buckets of water or confetti thrown, and no Washington Generals to act as their inept foils." On November 10 and 11 at Vanderbilt University and the University of Maryland,[18] another defending champion, they lost close games to both teams, their first consecutive defeats since 1961. Yet the tour probably marked a decade of improvement as a competitive team.[16] On November 3, 2003, the Globetrotters had a streak of 288 consecutive victories snapped after suffering an 89–88 loss to the UTEP Miners, who had just six victories the season before. It was their only loss during an eight-game college tour wherein the Globetrotters had defeated Michigan State (97–83), UMass (77–68), and defending national champion Syracuse (83–70).

On February 27, 2006, the Globetrotters extended their overall record to exactly 22,000 wins. Their most recent loss came on March 31, 2006, when they went down 87–83 to the NABC College All-Stars to bring their loss tally to just 345, a losing percentage of 1.5%.

Draft[edit]

Starting in 2007, the Globetrotters have conducted an annual "draft" a few days before the NBA draft, in which they select players and invite them to join the team. The team does not speak beforehand to the players they select (some of whom are not even known as basketball players, such as soccer stars Lionel Messi and Tim Howard), and only a few of the selected players eventually agree to join the Globetrotters.[19]

Notable draft picks by the Globetrotters include: Sun Mingming (2007), Brent Petway (2007), Patrick Ewing, Jr. (2008), Sonny Weems (2008), Taylor Griffin (2009), Tim Howard (2009), Mark Titus (2010), Lionel Messi (2011), Jermaine Abrahams (2011), Paul Sturgess (2011), Andrew Goudelock (2011), Mariano Rivera (2013), and Brittney Griner (2013).[19][20]

In popular culture[edit]

The Harlem Globetrotters in the Netherlands (1958)

The Harlem Globetrotters have been featured in several of their own films and television series:

Retired numbers[edit]

A basketball player, wearing a blue jersey with the word "ORIGINAL HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS" on the front, is posing while holding a basketball.
Wilt Chamberlain was the first Harlem Globetrotters player to have his jersey number retired.

The Globetrotters have honored five players by retiring their numbers:

Honorary members[edit]

These eight people have been officially named as honorary members by the team:[29][30]

In addition, Bill Cosby (in 1972) and Magic Johnson (in 2003) have been signed to $1 a year lifetime contracts with the Globetrotters.[32] Cosby's was increased to $1.05 in 1986.[33] In 2009, the Globetrotters drafted Tim Howard, the goalkeeper for the U.S. national soccer team and a former basketball player, to be an ambassador for the club.

Summer Skills Clinics[edit]

In 2012, the Globetrotters introduced their version of summer basketball camp called Summer Skills Clinics. Clinics are available for boys and girls (age 6–12) and are designed so that no experience is required. At clinics, kids get the opportunity to get coached by actual players on the team, learn tricks, drills, fundamentals and learn some important character-building messages delivered by the team. Their clinics have grown nationally every year and are located at 24 Hour Fitness centers across the country.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "AMUSEMENT PARK GIANT BUYS HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS". Associated Press. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "History of the team". Harlemglobetrotters.com. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  3. ^ Newman, Scott (2001-01-02). "Savoy Ballroom". Jazz Age Chicago. Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  4. ^ Harlem Globetrotters website; Robert Peterson, Cages to Jump Shots: Pro Basketball's Early Years (University of Nebraska Press, 2002), p105
  5. ^ Smith, Jay. "Harlem Globetrotters". WTTW. Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  6. ^ a b "Abe's 'Trotters Off to Moscow". Vancouver Sun. AP. 16 June 1959. p. 16. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Khruschchev Surprises U.S. Cagers By Street". Victoria Advocate. AP. 9 July 1959. p. 15. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Cummings, Richard H. (30 January 2011). "Harlem Globetrotters and Nikita Khrushchev". Cold War Radios. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Russians Baffled by Harlem Fun". Reading Eagle. UPI. 7 July 1959. p. 3. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "Globetrotters impress Soviets". Leader-Post. AP. 8 July 1959. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  11. ^ Pearson, Drew (30 July 1959). "US–USSR Relations Much Improved". Deseret News. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  12. ^ Pearson, Drew (11 September 1959). "Ike Should Go to Russia". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. p. 13. Retrieved 20 September 2012. 
  13. ^ Associated Press. "A Non-Black Player Joins Globetrotters". The New York Times. December 28, 1995.
  14. ^ "Seattle University Chieftains ... defeat Harlem Globetrotters ..." Historylink.org (Washington State History). No date. Confirmed 2010-06-21.
  15. ^ http://www.mygatewaynews.com/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=36&ArticleID=5577
  16. ^ a b Eskin, Blake. "Harlem Renaissance: Can the jesters of basketball break away from their Jim Crow roots and once again become kings of the court?" The Washington Post. March 2, 2003. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  17. ^ Covell, Jeffrey L. "Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc.". International Directory of Company Histories. Volume 61 (1990). FindArticles.com. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  18. ^ "Postgame Quotes: Maryland vs. Harlem Globetrotters" from Maryland Athletics website
  19. ^ a b Patrick Dorsey, A brief history of the Harlem Globetrotters' draft picks, including Lionel Messi, ESPN.com, Published 2011-07-23, Accessed 2012-01-31.
  20. ^ Kate Fagan, [1], ESPN.com, Published 2013-06-25, Accessed 2013-06-25.
  21. ^ Crowther, Bosley (March 10, 1954). "The Screen in Review; Harlem Globetrotters Perform in a Sports Romance, 'Go, Man, Go!' at the Globe". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  22. ^ Maurice Sorrell (January 1977). "The Week's Best Photos". JET 51 (17): 41–41. 
  23. ^ "Harlem Globetrotters headed back to TV". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  24. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1931370/
  25. ^ "2010 2N Globetrotters". YouTube. 2010-02-05. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  26. ^ "Game Ball From Historic 4-Point Shot Headed to the Hall." Harlem Globetrotters. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
  27. ^ October 19, 2011 (2011-10-19). "Harlem Globetrotters.com – Trotters Appear on ''Sesame Street''". Harlemglobetrotters.com. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  28. ^ Dickson, Tom (host) (28 February 2012). The Harlem Globetrotters (Television production) (in English). Blendtec. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  29. ^ Harlem Globetrotters, San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
  30. ^ Harlem Globetrotters Celebrate 75 Years At Anniversary Gala In Chicago, BNET (from Jet 29 January 2007). Retrieved 2008-05-10.
  31. ^ Martin, Douglas. "Lee Solters, Razzle-Dazzle Press Agent, Dies at 89". The New York Times. May 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  32. ^ Associated Press. "Johnson joins Globetrotters to defeat former team" ESPN November 2, 2003. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
  33. ^ Wolfe, Rich. For Mets Fans Only. Indy Tech Publishing. 2006. Page 98. ISBN 0-7906-1334-4.

References[edit]

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