I grew up in a basketball crazy house, with my dad, brother, and Pop-Pop yelling at the Philly 76ers on TV. As a kid, my brother and I also LOVED the Harlem Globetrotters. I fondly remember going to see them play as a kid, and my brother just wanted to meet Curly and get his autograph. I also remember watching their Saturday morning cartoon, and then going out and trying to do tricks just like them. The Harlem Globetrotters are in Trenton on March 13 and at Brookdale on March 16 and 17 (see event listings above). Don't miss them! Here are some fun facts:
- Created by Abe Saperstein in 1926 in Chicago, Illinois, the team adopted the name Harlem because of its connotations as a major African-American community. Over the years they have played more than 20,000 exhibition games in 118 countries.
- Brother Bones's whistled version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" is the team's signature song.
- The Globetrotters were initially a serious competitive team, and despite a flair for entertainment, they would only clown for the audience after establishing a safe lead in the game.
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, Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, as well as Marques Haynes, George "Meadowlark" Lemon, Jerome James, former Temple coach John Chaney, 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 due to his shaven head.
- In addition to their hundreds of exhibition games, the Globetrotters have faced some competitive action since the mid-1990s. 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 in going back to 1971. The 48-year-old Abdul-Jabbar scored 34 points.
- Harlem Globetrotters, a Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon, broadcast from September 12, 1970 to May 1973. Originally broadcast on CBS, and later re-run on NBC as The Go-Go Globetrotters. The cartoon Globetrotters also guest-starred three times on the The New Scooby Doo Movies.
- The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island, a 1981 made-for-TV film featured the Globetrotters alongside Bob Denver and the rest of the cast of Gilligan's Island. The film's plot follows the first animated series' formula to a degree with a conflict that ends with an unusual basketball game against an opposing team made up of robots.
- These eight people have been officially named as honorary members by the team: Henry Kissinger, Bob Hope, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Whoopi Goldberg, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Pope John Paul II (In 2000, Press agent Lee Solters arranged a ceremony orchestrated in front of a crowd of 50,000 in Saint Peter's Square in which the Pope was recognized as an honorary Globetrotter), Jesse Jackson
In addition, Bill Cosby (in 1972) and Magic Johnson (in 2003) have been signed to $1 a year lifetime contracts with the Globetrotters. Cosby's was increased to $1.05 in 1986.