The Harlem Globetrotters Still Have It

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For over 90 years Basketball fans have been entertained by a group of players that understand the game, and love to shine and Wednesday night proof that they still have it. The packed crowd at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Florida was the place to be and LockedIN Magazine was there.

The Harlem Globetrotters are a worldwide icon, synonymous with family entertainment and great basketball skills. The Globetrotters represent nine decades of breaking down barriers, acts of goodwill and a commitment to fans that goes beyond the game.

Abe Saperstein founded the team in 1926, and they played their first road game in Hinckley, Illinois, on Jan. 7, 1927. Since then, the Globetrotters have entertained more than 144 million fans in 122 countries and territories worldwide – introducing many to the sport of basketball – pioneers in popularizing the slam dunk, fast break, the forward and point guard positions, and the figure-eight weave.

Defeating the Chicago Bruins in 1940, the Globetrotters won their first World Basketball Championship. In 1948 and 1949, the Globetrotters stunned the world by twice defeating the World Champion Minneapolis Lakers. They were socially influential and quickly became recognized as the world’s best basketball team, showing that African-Americans could excel on a professional level.

The victories over the Lakers accelerated the integration of the NBA, as Globetrotter Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton became the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract, joining the famed New York Knicks in 1950. The Globetrotters also embarked on their first-ever international tour in 1950, played before their largest crowd ever – 75,000 – at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium in 1951 and finished the decade with their first-ever trip to the Soviet Union in 1959. Wilt Chamberlain was part of the historic Soviet Union tour, as the Hall of Famer played a full season with the Globetrotters in 1958-59. After starting his NBA career, he still played parts of several other seasons with the Globetrotters, joining the team when he could between NBA seasons. Chamberlain said that some of the most pleasant days of his life were playing for the Harlem Globetrotters.

The Globetrotters enjoyed immense popularity in the ‘70s and ‘80s. “The Harlem Globetrotters” cartoon show on CBS earned some of the highest ratings in the history of Saturday morning television, the team had their own live action Saturday morning variety show, “The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine” and appeared numerous times on the beloved “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.” In 1985, Olympic Gold Medalist Lynette Woodard joined the Trotters, becoming the first female to ever play on a men’s pro basketball team and helping to blaze a path for the WNBA. The Globetrotters have featured 13 female players in their illustrious history.

Former player Mannie Jackson purchased the team in 1993, becoming the first African-American to own a major international sports and entertainment organization. He tripled the team’s revenue in three years and quadrupled its size in five. The team was also active in philanthropic efforts, with charitable contributions totaling over $11 million under Jackson’s guidance.

Globetrotter Michael “Wild Thing” Wilson set a world record in 2000 by dunking on a 12-foot hoop at Final Four Weekend… a record that stands to this day and one of 12 world records currently held by Globetrotters players.

The team confirmed their standing as one of the world’s most influential basketball teams in 2002, receiving the sport’s highest honor with induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

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