"BIG" FRANK WASHINGTON
"Big" Frank Washington, a high-flying 6-foot-5-inch center, was a member of the first Harlem Globetrotter team to trek around the world in 1952. He played with the Globetrotters from 1946 to 1960 and traveled on six world tours with such historic Globetrotters as William "Pop" Gates, Marques Haynes, Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton and Reece "Goose" Tatum. During World War II, Washington volunteered for the U.S. Navy, where his basketball career flourished and he was discovered by Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstein. During his journeys with the Globetrotters, Washington had two audiences with the Pope, met kings and queens, and appeared in two Globetrotter movies. Washington received his "Legends" Ring during a special ceremony on March 16, 2002, in his native Philadelphia.
"SWEET" LOU DUNBAR
Throughout his illustrious career, fans across the world adored "Sweet" Lou Dunbar's on-court comedy routines and shared his love of the game. Now he is passing that love and considerable knowledge on to a new generation of Globetrotters as the team’s director of player personnel.
One of the most revered players in Globetrotter history, Sweet Lou has traveled three times around the world, playing in front of more than 10 million people on six continents. Among his many travels, Sweet Lou was one of the Globetrotters on hand when the team visited Rome and named Pope John Paul II an Honorary Globetrotter on Nov. 29, 2000.
He was discovered by a Globetrotter scout during a summer pro league with the NBA's Houston Rockets. Sweet Lou has made Houston his permanent home since starring for the University of Houston from 1972-1975. At 6-10, he was one of the first big men to play point guard for a major university. He also played forward and center for the Cougars, earning All-American honors, and was inducted into the University of Houston Hall of Honor on Nov. 15, 2008. As a senior at Webster High School in Minden, La., he was named "Mr. Basketball of Louisiana," joining other former Louisiana stars such as Willis Reed, Bob Pettit and Elvin Hayes.
The 25th person to receive the "Legends" distinction, Sweet Lou was honored on Feb. 9, 2007, at Houston’s Toyota Center
"WEE" WILLIE GARDNER
A 6-9 silky smooth forward, "Wee" Willie Gardner was one of the first players signed by the Harlem Globetrotters prior to the 1954 season at the age of 19. The young phenom from Indiana quickly made an impact with the Globetrotters, helping the team capture the "World Series of Basketball" title against the College All-Americans in 1954. The 21-game series attracted an attendance of 277,393 as the Globetrotters posted a 15-6 record and Gardner was named Most Valuable Player. The former Crispus Attucks High School standout duplicated his efforts during the 1957 "World Series of Basketball" en route to earning MVP honors for the second time.
After three seasons with the Globetrotters, Gardner signed a two-year contract with the NBA's New York Knickerbockers in April of 1957. However, he never played for the Knicks as a heart impairment required him to retire at the pinnacle of his young and promising career. Born on October 30, 1933, Gardner was named to the Silver Anniversary Team by the Indiana Hall of Fame in 1977. He received his "Legends" ring during a special halftime ceremony at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis on January 17, 1998. Gardner passed away on Sept. 28, 2000, just a month shy of his 67th birthday.
One of professional basketball's original pioneers, Bernie Price became just the 14th person to receive the distinguished Harlem Globetrotter Legends award at Rosemont Horizon in Chicago on Feb. 26, 1999. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Price moved to Chicago as a teenager and quickly became known in basketball circles as an outstanding, quick and powerful forward/center. The Harlem Globetrotters signed the 6-3 ½ standout in the mid-1930's and he toured with the team for over 10 years. Price played in the annual World Professional Basketball tournament with the Globetrotters over a seven-year span (1939-45), and helped the team capture their first World Championship in 1940 with a 31-29 win over George Halas' Chicago Bruins.
Price enjoyed one of his finest basketball campaigns during the 1941-42 season when he scored over 3,000 points in a 104-game Globetrotter season, an incredible achievement during an era of low scoring games. Price joined the National Basketball League (the predecessor to today's NBA) in 1942 as a member of the Chicago Studebakers for one season. Price started at forward for the Studebakers and led the league in free throws made during his lone NBL season.
The Studebakers were the pioneers of racial integration, as nine of the 13 players on the roster in 1942-43 were African Americans. The NBL and the Studebakers were years ahead of professional baseball and football for breaking the color barrier. The 1950-51 season marked the first appearance of black players in the NBA, as 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 to sign an NBA contract when he signed with New York. Price passed away on Jan. 24, 2002.
BILLY RAY HOBLEY
Billy Ray Hobley was posthumously honored by the Globetrotters with the team’s "Legends" award when the Globetrotters played in Hobley’s adopted hometown of New Orleans on Feb. 13, 2011.
Hobley, who passed away on July 31, 2002, at the age of 48, is the 29th person in the Globetrotters’ storied 85-year history to receive the distinction. Nicknamed "Supertrotter," he was known for his rim-jarring dunks, blazing ball handling and effervescent personality. Hobley traveled around the world the equivalent of six times over 22 seasons for the Globetrotters, the last of which was in 1998.
The 6-8 forward joined the Globetrotters in 1977, after averaging nearly 15 points per contest in 99 career games at Dillard University in New Orleans. Hobley had previously starred at James A. Shanks High School in Quincy, Fla., before moving to New Orleans, where he made his home before his passing.
"Billy Ray could light up any room in the world, and he always had a story to tell you," said Globetrotters Legend Sweet Lou Dunbar, who also came to the Trotters as a rookie in 1977 and was a teammate of Hobley’s for over 20 years. "The nickname ‘Supertrotter’ fit him perfectly."
Hobley’s "Legends" award was accepted by his wife, Mattie, children Raichell and Billy Ray II, and nephew Elijah.
Bob Karstens was the third Caucasian to play for the Harlem Globetroters (the others were founder Abe Saperstein and Bunny Leavitt), but Karstens had the rare distinction of being the first Caucasian player to be under contract with the team. Karstens joined the Globetrotters in 1943, when Reece "Goose" Tatum was drafted into the Army Air Corp during World War II. A native of Davenport, Iowa, Karstens was one of the original creators of the Globetrotters famous "Magic Circle" pregame routine, in addition to developing the "Goofball" (a gag basketball filled with off center weights), the "yo yo" basketball, and the behind-the-back trick shot. The former St. Ambrose College (Iowa) standout was born on March 11, 1915. Karstens was presented with the Harlem Globetrotters "Legends" Ring on June 13, 1994 in New Orleans. Karstens passed away on Dec. 31, 2004..
BOBBY JOE MASON
Bobby Joe Mason’s career with the Harlem Globetrotters spanned from 1962 to 1976. During his tenure with the Globetrotters, he was named MVP of the 1962 College Series and was a part of the popular television series "Harlem Globetrotter Popcorn Machine." While still a Globetrotter in 1971, Mason was named to the prestigious all-time All-Missouri Valley Conference team.
A native of Centralia, Ill., Mason was a standout guard at Centralia High School, where he played four years of basketball, scored more than 2,000 points and was selected to the all-state team during his final two years. Mason went on to a sensational All-American career at Bradley University and played in the East-West All Star game before he joined the Globetrotters. After his career ended with the Globetrotters, Mason returned to Illinois, to give back to the community that supported him throughout his basketball career.
Mason was honored on Jan. 4 and 5, 2003, when the Ambassadors of Goodwill played in Springfield and in Peoria, Ill. Mason passed away on July 4, 2006.
Carl Helem, who helped transform the Harlem Globetrotters into the global presence they are today, became the 14th person to receive the distinguished Harlem Globetrotters "Legends" Ring on Dec. 30, 1999, at the Firstar Center in Cincinnati. Helem played with the Globetrotters for nearly eight years (1948-55) during a magical era of the storied organization. He took part in the World Series of Basketball, an annual competitive series of games against the nation’s top college seniors, and experienced the Globetrotters’ first-ever international overseas tours in 1950. The team was also featured in two motion pictures ("The Harlem Globetrotters" and "Go Man Go!") during Helem’s Globetrotter career, defeated the world champion Minneapolis Lakers in both 1948 and 1949, and introduced "Sweet Georgia Brown" as its theme song.
Originally from Horse Cave, Ky., Helem led Horse Cave High School to consecutive state basketball championships in 1944 and 1945 and was a two-time all-state selection. He moved on to Tennessee State University and topped his team in scoring as a freshman and twice earned All-Midwest honors during his three-year career. Following his Globetrotter career, Helem joined the Ashland Oil & Refining Company, now known as Ashland Inc., and worked for the company for over 35 years until his retirement in 1990. Helem passed away on Feb. 17, 2001.
CHARLES "TEX" HARRISON
Known during his playing days as one of the quickest Harlem Globetrotters, Charles "Tex" Harrison was an outstanding dribbler and rebounder during his 18 years as a player for the team. He became a Globetrotter coach and advisor following his playing days and traveled to more than 100 countries with the Globetrotters. During his career, Tex had tea with Queen Elizabeth, caviar with Nikita Khrushchev, and an audience with three Popes. Tex received his "Legends" Ring on Jan. 26, 1996, in Houston.
Born in Gary, Ind., Tex was discovered in 1954, when he faced the Globetrotters as a member of the College All-American team during the World Series of Basketball.
He did everything from playing alongside the immortal Wilt Chamberlin, to joining several Globetrotter teammates on the "Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine," a 1972 television variety series where players sang, danced and performed comedy sketches.
Tex was the first player from a historically African-American college to capture All-American honors while at North Carolina Central University in Durham, where he earned his degree in physical education. Tex received his nickname in college by being a very recognizable 6-3 Texan attending school in North Carolina.
"Aside from my family, being a Harlem Globetrotter has been the greatest highlight of my life," Tex once said. "I have had the good fortune to be a part of the most celebrated sports team in history."
Tex passed on Nov. 20, 2014, in Houston, at the age of 81.
One of the great ball handlers and leapers in basketball history, a forerunner to Julius Erving and Michael Jordan at swooping to the basket, Connie Hawkins played four magical seasons with the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1960s.
After touring with the Globetrotters, Hawkins joined the ABA's Pittsburgh Pipers for the 1967-68 season and led them to the inaugural ABA title, en route to earning league Most Valuable Player honors. After playing the 1968-69 season with the ABA's Minnesota Muskies, Hawkins jumped to the NBA's Phoenix Suns for the 1969-70 campaign. The 6-8 forward spent seven years in the NBA and was selected to play in four NBA All-Star Games. Overall, the former University of Iowa standout appeared in 511 career NBA games (16.6 ppg) and 138 ABA games (28.2 ppg). Hawkins was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. "Hawk" received his Harlem Globetrotters "Legends" Ring on Jan. 22, 1994, during a pregame ceremony at America West Arena in Phoenix.
DAVID "SMOKEY" GAINES
David "Smokey" Gaines, who traveled the world from 1963-1967 as a standout guard with the Harlem Globetrotters, was the 24th person in team history to be honored with the prestigious "Legends" RIng.
The all-time scoring leader at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tenn., Gaines was named head men’s basketball coach and athletic director at his alma mater in April 2005. He was the first person to have his number (#32) retired at LeMoyne-Owen. Following a storied playing career, Gaines became a successful college coach at the University of Detroit (1977-79) and at San Diego State University (1979-87). He also served as a scout for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. In 1970, he graduated with a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University.
Gaines was honored during a ceremony at the FedExForum in Memphis on Jan. 7, 2006.
FRED "CURLY" NEAL
One of the truly magical dribblers and shooters in basketball history, Curly Neal captured the imagination of fans all over the world, playing in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries as a key member of the Harlem Globetrotters. Number 22 fittingly played for 22 seasons in the red, white and blue, from 1963 to 1985.
Still sporting the trademark shaved head, wide smile and infectious laugh that made him a pop culture icon for decades, on Feb. 15, 2008, Curly became just the fifth Globetrotter in the team's illustrious history to have his jersey number retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon and Goose Tatum. Curly's famous number 22 was lifted to the rafters during a special ceremony at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Curly was part of one of the most extraordinary eras in the team's history, appearing on several popular television programs and specials, including "ABC's Wide World of Sports," "CBS Sports Spectacular," "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine," "The Love Boat," "The White Shadow" and "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan‘s Island." He also appeared in numerous national TV commercials and was immortalized in animation on "The Harlem Globetrotters" cartoon series and on episodes of "Scooby Doo."
After an outstanding career at James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, N.C., Curly moved on to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., where he averaged over 23 points per game and led his team to the CIAA title his senior year. He was inducted into the 2008 class of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, along with the renowned Roy Williams, coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Curly continues to make appearances for the Globetrotters as an "Ambassador of Goodwill."TM
Curly is also a recipient of the Harlem Globetrotters' prestigious "Legends" ring, presented to those who have made a major contribution to the success and the development of the Globetrotters organization. A special advisory board selects honorees who have excelled on and off the court in athletic ability, showmanship, crowd appeal and humanitarian contributions. Curly was inducted into the Globetrotters' "Legends" ring on June 25, 1993.
Govoner Vaughn joined the Harlem Globetrotters in 1960 and quickly established himself as one of the top players in the team's history. He was named MVP of the 1961 World Series of Basketball, a 20-game series against the nation's top college seniors. Prior to joining the Globetrotters, Vaughn was a three-year basketball letter winner at the University of Illinois, twice earning Converse All-America and All-Big Ten Conference honors.
Vaughn rejoined the Globetrotters during the 2010 World Tour as the team's director of alumni relations, a position he also held from 2000-2005. Vaughn has received several community service awards for tutoring in the Detroit Public School System, coordinating and directing United Way drives, and counseling other youth organizations.
The Edwardsville, Ill., native was honored by the Harlem Globetrotters with his "Legends" Ring on Jan. 4, 2004, at the Savvis Center in St. Louis.
Former Harlem Globetrotters standout and Indiana basketball star Hallie Bryant, who helped lead the Indiana Hoosiers to the Big Ten Conference title in 1957, was the 28th person honored by the Globetrotters with the team’s "Legends" award on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Jan. 19, 2009 – at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Interestingly, Bryant was offered the "Legends" honor in 1998, but he selflessly asked that it instead be bestowed upon his Globetrotter teammate, and childhood friend, Willie Gardner, who was suffering from diabetes at the time. Gardner, who played three seasons with the Globetrotters and had signed a contract with the New York Knicks before a heart condition forced him to retire, passed away in 2000.
"I guess now is the right time for me," Bryant said when the "Legends" award was offered again in 2009. "When I was approached back in 1998, I knew that Willie was in poor health, and I thought it would be more appropriate to pay homage to a man who had been like a brother to me, so I respectfully asked the team to give the honor to Willie."
A life-long resident of Indiana, Bryant graduated from historical Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, was Indiana’s "Mr. Basketball" in 1953, was a three-year letter winner at Indiana University, and is a member of the state of Indiana and IU Basketball Halls of Fame. Following a two-year stretch as a commissioned officer of the U.S. Army, Bryant joined the Globetrotters for what would be a 27-year career. Bryant visited more than 87 countries in 13 years as a player, and then continued his relationship with the organization as an official spokesperson and director of team personnel.
"It is with great pride that we honor Hallie Bryant with our ‘Legends’ ring," said Globetrotters’ CEO Kurt Schneider. "He continues to live his life in the true spirit of a Harlem Globetrotter, always thinking of others and giving back to the community every chance he gets. Globetrotter icons Curly Neal and Tex Harrison highly recommended Hallie for this honor, and there is no better endorsement than that."
HUBERT "GEESE" AUSBIE
One of the most popular and recognizable Harlem Globetrotters ever, Hubert "Geese" Ausbie thrilled audiences with his awesome talent and effervescent personality around the world for 24 years. He served as the "Clown Prince" for the Globetrotters from 1961 to 1985.
In 1961, Geese attended an open tryout during the Globetrotters’ training camp in Chicago, where he was chosen for the team from more than 500 players from around the country. He turned down a pro baseball contract with the Chicago Cubs to pursue a career with the Globetrotters.
Geese was part of one of the most extraordinary eras in the team's history, appearing on several popular television programs and specials, including “ABC's Wide World of Sports," "CBS Sports Spectacular," "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine," "The White Shadow" and "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan‘s Island." He also appeared in numerous national TV commercials and was immortalized in animation on “The Harlem Globetrotters” cartoon series and on episodes of "Scooby Doo."
A native of Crescent, Okla., Geese attended Douglas High School, where during one memorable week his senior season he scored 70, 54 and 62 points in three consecutive games during a tournament. Over 200 colleges and universities vied for his basketball abilities, and he chose Philander Smith College in Little Rock (Ark.), where he averaged 30 points a game during his college career.
Geese was honored with the Harlem Globetrotters "Legends" Ring on March 6, 1994, during a pregame ceremony at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The "Legends" distinction is presented to those who have made a major contribution to the success and development of the Globetrotters organization, excelling on and off the court in athletic ability, showmanship, crowd appeal and humanitarian contributions.
J.C. Gipson began his outstanding career with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1952 and wore the famous red, white, and blue for 20-plus glorious seasons. His personality, superb playing ability, and outstanding flair for showmanship made him one of the most popular Globetrotters of all-time. Amazingly, Gipson had no college experience and played only a single season of high school basketball at Thomas Jefferson High in Los Angeles. Selected as the city's "Prep Player of the Year," Gipson was flooded with college offers but elected to sign a contract with the Globetrotters.
The 6-8, 250-pound forward could run the floor, shoot from long range and rebound with the best. He established a World Series of Basketball record by tallying 33 points against the 1953 College All-Americans in Chicago. Gipson was one of six Globetrotters animated in the popular Saturday morning Hanna-Barbera cartoon series in the 1970s. Off the floor, he served as a team spokesman and had an unbelievable relationship with children of all ages from around the world. Gipson received his "Legends" Ring on Aug. 3, 1995, and passed away on Dec. 30, 2009.
Before the world had ever heard of Globetrotter Michael ‘Wild Thing’ Wilson, Michael Jordan, Julius Erving and Vince Carter, Jumpin’ Jackie Jackson defied gravity every time he stepped out onto the court. Jackson is considered by many to be one of the highest jumpers and the greatest dunkers of all time.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Jackson started his remarkable career at the famed Boys High, leading his team to the city championship. At Virginia Union, the 6-3 center earned the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s Freshman of the Year award. After graduating, Jackson was the 41st pick in the 1962 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia Warriors. Instead of joining the NBA, Jackson played for the world famous Harlem Globetrotters. He played one season with the team in 1963, before being drafted into the Army. In 1966, Jackson returned to the Globetrotters where he played for 15 seasons.
Jackson was honored on Feb. 9, 2003 at the Harlem Globetrotters game at Madison Square Garden.
JAMES "TWIGGY" SANDERS
One of the best known and greatest Showmen of all time, James "Twiggy" Sanders was the 27th person in the Globetrotters’ history to receive the "Legends" honor, joining the ranks of other Showmen like Reece "Goose" Tatum, Hubert "Geese" Ausbie and "Sweet" Lou Dunbar, who helped make the Globetrotters what they are today.
A native of Raleigh, Sanders was a standout at Ligon High School, where he was all-conference, all-state and All-American in 1970, and was also named the Wake County Player of the Year. He continued his education and basketball career at Johnson C. Smith University, earning a spot on the CIAA All-Tournament team his junior and senior year. Nicknamed "Twiggy" for his lean build, Sanders played with the Globetrotters from 1974 until 1991. During his tenure with the Ambassadors of GoodwillTM, Sanders traveled more than 75,000 miles to over 100 countries on six continents.
Following his Globetrotter career, Sanders continued to be involved in the game he loved, but this time as a coach. He has coached at Bonner Academy in Raleigh, Morris Brown College in Atlanta, the Raleigh Cougars of the United States Basketball League, and with the ABA’s Maryland Nighthawks, a team that he guided to the semi-finals in the 2004-05 season. Sanders was also an assistant men’s basketball coach at Shaw University, three blocks from where he grew up in Raleigh.
Sanders was honored in his hometown on March 23, 2007, at the RBC Center.
JOHN "JUMPIN' JOHNNY" KLINE
Dr. John "Jumpin' Johnny" Kline was a standout basketball leader on and off the court.
Kline's career with the Harlem Globetrotters spanned from 1953 to 1959 where he traveled all over the United States and abroad with the organization. During his tenure with the Globetrotters, they won the "World Series of Basketball" against the College All-Americans, and in 1959 posted their first undefeated season with 441 wins.
Originally from Detroit, Mich., Kline was a basketball All-American and 1952 Athlete of the Year at Wayne State University, Most Valuable Player in the first Motor City Tournament and a finalist in the United States Olympic trials for track before he joined the Globetrotters. After his career ended with the Globetrotters, Kline went back to Wayne State University and earned a doctorate in history and philosophy of education. He founded The Black Legends of Basketball in 1996, an organization that recognizes pioneers in the game of basketball.
Kline was honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with The Mannie Jackson - Basketball’s Human Spirit Award on August 11, 2011. The criteria for award winners includes embracing the core values of the game through hard work, dedication, and resilience; striving to continuously improve the community they serve, and making an ongoing commitment to others. Beyond the game, award winners must reflect the values of Mannie Jackson’s life-long mission to overcome obstacles and challenge the status quo, while taking responsibility for personal actions and seeking the highest standard of excellence.
He received his "Legends" ring during a special ceremony at The Palace of Auburn Hills on February 3, 2002.
After graduating from Manhattan College in 1953, Junius Kellogg signed a contract with the Harlem Globetrotters. However, the 6-10 center's promising basketball career was cut short at the age of 23, when a car crash in 1954 left him a paraplegic and confined him to a wheelchair.
Kellogg was honored in November 1997 for an act of courage that rocked college basketball in 1951. A star center and the first black player at Manhattan College, Kellogg declined a gambler's offer to shave points in a college game and informed his coach of the offer. By the time the nationwide scandal was fully investigated, 32 players from seven national powers were found to have fixed over 85 games between 1947 and 1950. Kellogg was acknowledged by the media as a hero all across the country for his honesty and courageous decision to report the scandal. A standout at Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Va., Kellogg was presented with his "Legends" Ring in New York on Feb. 14, 1998. Kellogg passed away on Sept. 16 of that same year, at the age of 71.
LOUIS "RED" KLOTZ
Louis "Red" Klotz, who was involved in over 19,000 games against the Harlem Globetrotters as a player, coach and owner, became the first non-Globetrotter to have a jersey retired by the team when the Globetrotters honored Klotz in his native Philadelphia on March 13, 2011. Klotz became only the sixth person in the Globetrotters’ history to receive this distinction, joining Curly Neal (No. 22), Goose Tatum (No. 50), Marques Haynes (No. 20), Meadowlark Lemon (No. 36), and Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13), as the only individuals ever so honored by the team.
He was the first non-Globetrotter to receive the "Legends" award, when he was was presented with the honor on March 10, 2007, at the Liacouras Center, during the Globetrotters’ annual visit to Philadelphia.
For more than half a century, Klotz put together a team to face the Globetrotters, including the widely known and popular Washington Generals. The partnership began in 1952, when Globetrotters’ Owner Abe Saperstein offered Klotz the opportunity to form a team to play the Globetrotters.
Prior to his relationship with the Globetrotters, Klotz perfected his set shot and dribbling as a standout player at South Philadelphia High School, where he led the team to city championships in 1939 and 1940, both times earning Philadelphia Player of the Year honors. Klotz attended Villanova on a basketball scholarship from 1942-1944 and went on to play for the Philadelphia SPHAS of the American Basketball League from 1944-1947. Klotz joined the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets midway through the 1947-48 season, a season in which the Bullets went on to defeat the Philadelphia Warriors in six games to win the NBA title.
Klotz once waxed that, "Like Fred Astaire had Ginger Rogers, the Harlem Globetrotters have always had a dance partner...but I’ve always been dancing backwards." Klotz’s teams played games in front of popes, kings and queens; on aircraft carriers, in bullrings, and on soccer fields; and in over 100 countries and thousands of cities around the world. The last time one of Klotz’s teams tasted victory over the Globetrotters came on January 5, 1971, in Martin, Tennessee, when Klotz, age 50 at the time, hit the game-winning shot as his New Jersey Reds defeated the Globetrotters 100-99.
Klotz passed away on July 12, 2014, at the age of 93.
Lynette Woodard became the first woman to ever play for a men's professional basketball team when she signed with the Harlem Globetrotters in October 1985, and she played with the Globetrotters until 1987. The six-foot guard was a four-time All-American (1978-81) at the University of Kansas, where she averaged 26.3 points per game during her college career.
The cousin of Globetrotter "Legend" Hubert "Geese" Ausbie, Woodard was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in 1989 and was a member of the 1984 United States Olympic team that captured the gold medal. Woodard played for the Cleveland Rockers of the WNBA during the summer of 1997 and was selected by the Detroit Shock in the 1998 WNBA expansion draft by then Shock Head Coach and General Manager Nancy Lieberman-Cline, a former member of the Washington Generals. Woodard was presented with a Harlem Globetrotters "Legends" Ring in 1996 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September 2004.
While Mannie Jackson was a standout player for the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1960s, his legacy with the Globetrotters and the game of basketball was as the team’s owner. Jackson became the first African-American to own a major international sports/entertainment organization when he purchased the Globetrotters in 1993. Jackson achieved a dramatic corporate turnaround, reviving the near-bankrupt organization and restoring its status as one of the most admired and publicized teams in the world, while increasing revenue five-fold and rebuilding the fan base to near record levels.
During Jackson’s regime, the Globetrotters charitable contributions totaled more than $11 million. In the 1996-97 season, Jackson and the Globetrotters were instrumental in securing over $2 million to the Nelson Mandela African Children’s Foundation. In the fall of 1997, Jackson announced an endowment of $100,000 to the Lincoln School Alumni Foundation of Edwardsville, Ill., helping provide youth with college scholarships and pledged $250,000 to the Globetrotters Alumni Association.
In the 2001-2002 season, Jackson directly contributed $100,000 to the American Red Cross for the Disaster Relief Fund to help victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy. In 2003, Jackson presented the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with a quarter of a million dollar donation to continue basketball's greatest legacy. In Jan. 2005, Jackson pledged $100,000 to UNICEF to aid victims of the tsunami in Asia, as well as a $250,000 donation to the Edwardsville YMCA. In Sept. 2005, Jackson donated $200,000 to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Jackson sold 80 percent of the team to Shamrock Capital Growth Fund in Sept. 2005 and stepped away from his day-to-day operations of the team when the Globetrotters announced the appointment of Kurt Schneider as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer in May 2007. Jackson remains the Globetrotters’ Chairman of the Board and still owns 20 percent of the team.
Born in a railway boxcar in Illmo, Mo., Jackson grew up in Edwardsville, Ill., earning the title of Illinois’ "Mr. Basketball," and attended the University of Illinois, becoming the first African-American ever on the Illini basketball team, where he was named captain and earned All-American honors in 1960. He is also a charter member of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame, and a member of the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame, as well as a charter member of the Black Legends of Professional Basketball. He received the Harlem Globetrotters "Legends" Ring on Aug. 3, 1993.
Legendary Harlem Globetrotter Marques Haynes – considered by many to be the greatest basketball dribbler of all-time – passed away in Plano, Texas, on May 22, 2015, at the age of 89.
In a four-decade career, Haynes played in more than 12,000 games, traveled more than four million miles and entertained fans in nearly 100 countries during two stints with the Globetrotters (1947-53, 1972-79). His dribbling style would confuse and confound opponents and became one of the Globetrotters' most potent offensive weapons.
"The game of basketball has lost one of its most iconic figures," said Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider on the day of Haynes' passing. "Marques was a pioneer, helping pave the way for people of all races to have opportunities to play basketball and for the sport to explode on a global scale. His unique and groundbreaking style of play set the tone for modern basketball as we know it; anyone involved with basketball worldwide is indebted to Marques. He was the consummate Globetrotter."
The acrobatic Haynes caught the attention of Harlem Globetrotters owner Abe Saperstein in 1946, during a game in which Langston University defeated the Globetrotters, 74-70. Following graduation, Haynes joined the Globetrotters and starred for the team when it defeated the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers in 1948 (61-59) and in 1949 (49-45).
In 1998, Haynes became the first player ever to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a Globetrotter. He has been enshrined into a total of six Halls of Fame, including NAIA (1985), Jim Thorpe (1993) and Langston University (1995). On Dec. 8, 2007, Langston University honored Haynes by dedicating its basketball court as "Marques Haynes Court."
Haynes received a Globetrotters "Legends" Ring and had his jersey (#20) retired as part of a 75th Anniversary black tie charity fund-raiser on Jan. 5, 2001, at Chicago's Fairmont Hotel.
Haynes' basketball career began at Booker T. Washington High School in his hometown of Sand Springs, Okla., where he led the school to a high school national championship in 1941 and was named a Second Team Scholastic All-America that season. Haynes then starred collegiately at Langston University in Langston, Okla. (1942-46), where he was a four-time All-Conference selection and team MVP. Haynes led Langston in scoring all four years and guided the team to a 112-3 record, a mark that included a 59-game winning streak.
During 24 seasons as the "Clown Prince" of the Harlem Globetrotters, Meadowlark Lemon - who passed away in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Dec. 27, 2015, at the age of 83 - played in more than 7,500 consecutive games for the red, white, and blue. He played before popes, kings, queens and presidents in nearly 100 countries around the world.
In April 1952, the Globetrotters received a letter from Meadowlark requesting a tryout. He was given a look, and after serving two years in the Army, was signed to a contract. Meadowlark played his first season with one of the Globetrotter developmental teams, the Kansas City Stars. He played his first season full season with the Globetrotters in 1954.
Meadowlark was part of an extremely popular period in Globetrotters history, appearing on several popular television programs and specials, including "ABC's Wide World of Sports," "CBS Sports Spectacular," "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine." He also appeared in numerous national TV commercials and was immortalized in animation on "The Harlem Globetrotters" cartoon series and on episodes of "Scooby Doo."
Meadowlark was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, three years after receiving the John W. Bunn Award, named in honor of the Hall of Fame's first executive director, recognizing outstanding lifetime contributions to basketball.
A native of Wilmington, N.C., Lemon received his Globetrotters "Legends" Ring and had his jersey (#36) retired as part of a 75th Anniversary black tie charity fund-raiser on Jan. 5, 2001, at Chicago's Fairmont Hotel. Meadowlark spent the last several years of his life as an ordained minister and motivational speaker.
REECE "GOOSE" TATUM
The original "Clown Prince of Basketball," Harlem Globetrotters Legend Reece "Goose" Tatum is among a distinguished list of 10 players and coaches inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011.
Tatum was the first person elected from a newly formed Hall of Fame committee representing Early African-American Pioneers of the Game. Tatum was posthumously enshrined into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 12, 2011, in Springfield, Mass.
A Globetrotter for 12 remarkable seasons, Tatum was considered by many to be one of the greatest basketball players of his era and one of the best showmen in Globetrotter history.
Sixty years after his first season, the Harlem Globetrotters retired Tatum’s jersey number 50 and inducted him into the Globetrotters’ "Legends" Ring, on Feb. 8, 2002, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
In a 2002 article by Darren Ivy in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Marques Haynes – the first player inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a Globetrotter – said of his teammate, "Goose was responsible for creating great interest in basketball in this country and around the world…I’d say Michael Jordan is the Goose Tatum of today."
Tatum started his athletic career in the late 1930s as a baseball player, where, as a standout first baseman, he would entertain the crowd with quick routines after put-outs. It was during this time that his outstanding all-around athletic ability and comedic timing caught the eye of Globetrotters’ founder Abe Saperstein. Once signed to the Globetrotters by Saperstein, Tatum quickly became an unstoppable basketball force. When he joined the Globetrotters, Tatum brought his natural athletic ability, uncannily accurate hook shot and comedic timing and applied them to basketball. Those traits still help to define the Globetrotters today.
He led the Globetrotters to historic defeats of George Mikan and the world champion Minneapolis Lakers in 1948 and 1949, paving the way for the integration of the game.
Following Tatum’s passing on Jan. 18, 1967, at the age of 45, Lawrence Casey of the Chicago Daily Defender wrote, "Like Joe Louis in boxing, Babe Ruth in baseball, Bobby Jones in golf…Goose Tatum was king of his chosen sport."
ROBERT "SHOWBOAT" HALL
One of the greatest Clown Princes in Harlem Globetrotters history, Robert "Showboat" Hall became one of the most popular players to ever wear the red, white, and blue uniform. A native of Detroit, he succeeded...One of the greatest Clown Princes in Harlem Globetrotters history, Robert "Showboat" Hall became one of the most popular players to ever wear the red, white, and blue uniform. A native of Detroit, he succeeded Goose Tatum as the top Clown Prince in 1955. Hall played in over 5,000 games in nearly 90 different countries during his outstanding career and received his "Legends" ring during a special halftime ceremony at the Palace of Auburn Hills on February 1, 1998.
The former Miller High School star filled the dual role of court comedian and coach beginning in 1968, holding that role until he retired in 1974. A 6-2 pivot man, Hall learned his basketball trade at Detroit's famed Brewster Center, a training ground of many top-notch Motor City athletes. He joined the Globetrotters in 1949 and quickly became the master of the fast passing game and could do every ball trick in the book. "Showboat" Hall could do more with his feet than most players did with their hands, and he had the court sense that belonged to only a few legendary athletes of the game.
Hall passed away in Detroit on Dec. 24, 2014, at the age of 87.
WILLIAM "POP" GATES
In the days of the cage game, William "Pop" Gates was considered one of the nation's finest basketball players. Always a scoring threat, Gates was a complete ballplayer on offense, a defensive specialist, and a strong rebounder. The 6-2 guard/forward is one of few athletes who went directly from a high school championship team (Benjamin Franklin, New York, 1938) to a World Professional Champion (New York Renaissance, 1939). "Pop" concluded his playing career in 1955 after serving as player/coach of the Harlem Globetrotters for five years. Born Aug. 30, 1917, in Decatur, Ala., Gates is the only player to have appeared in all 10 World Professional Basketball Tournaments. In 1989, Gates was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was presented with his Harlem Globetrotters "Legends" Ring on Feb. 18, 1995, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Gates passed away on Dec. 2, 1999, at the age of 82.
One of the most famous and dominant players in Harlem Globetrotters history, Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain began his professional career in 1958 when the Globetrotters signed the University of Kansas standout to one of the largest contracts in sports.
The 7-1 center was often quoted that his time with the Globetrotters was the most enjoyable of his career. He was a member of the first-ever Harlem Globetrotter team to play in Moscow in 1959. The team enjoyed a sold out tour of the USSR and prior to the start of a game at Moscow's Lenin Central Stadium, the Globetrotters were greeted by General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev.
Following his Globetrotter career, Chamberlain starred in the NBA from 1959 through 1973, playing for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Lakers. He totaled 31,419 points and 23,924 rebounds during his career, averaging 30.1 ppg and 22.9 rpg. Chamberlain enjoyed his finest season in 1962, averaging an NBA record 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game. Highlighting the year was his 100-point effort against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962. During his NBA career, his dominance brought on many rules changes, including widening the lane, introducing offensive goaltending and revising rules governing free throw shooting (Chamberlain would jump from behind the foul line with the ball and lay it in the basket before the rules were revised).
Chamberlain, who passed away on Oct. 12, 1999, at the age of 63, was posthumously honored by the Globetrotters on March 9, 2000, when the team retired his jersey (#13) and inducted him into the “Legends” Ring. The ceremony, which marked the first-ever jersey retirement by the Globetrotters, took place at Chamberlain's high school in Philadelphia, Overbrook High School Gymnasium.