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Harlem Globetrotters, More Than a Game

photo by MATEO via Flickr.com MATEO via Flickr.com

NBA

Chicago, Illinois-1926– A man by the name of Abe Saperstein forms a team made up of young basketball players from the area in order to promote his nightclub Savoy Ballroom. The team was called the Savoy Big Five and they played in the gymnasium for pre-party entertainment from young, African American Gentlemen who played the game with a lot of flair and charisma, bringing never before seen maneuvers to the audiences eyes.

Little did the 24 year old Saperstein know that he had struck entertainment gold and started a cultural phenomenon.

In the upcoming years the team formerly known as the Savoy Big Five and now known as the Harlem Globetrotters would be playing a national schedule filled with thousands of games. In 1948 the Globetrotters made their mark as a legitimate basketball team by defeating the newly formed NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers.
The globetrotters being a team made up of all African American players beat a team of all white players. Two years after this defeat, the NBA lifted its color barrier and began allowing African Americans into the league. In that time the United States was severely segregated, it was a time when African Americans were not considered equal let alone allowed to play professional basketball. The introduction of Harlem Globetrotters gave these young men a chance to not be segregated against and gave them a chance to live as equals on the basketball court.

By this time the Globetrotters were true to their name and playing games on a global schedule. Visiting Berlin, Eastern Europe and Russia, among other places; they even performed once for Pope Pius XII in Rome, showcasing their brand of entertainment across the world while also displaying their basketball skills.
Most notable of the Globetrotters is basketball hall of fame legend Wilt Chamberlain, nicknamed “the Stilt” started his career in Harlem as a trotter. Chamberlain would go on to win 2 NBA titles averaging 30 points and 23 rebounds per game and scoring a record 100 points in one game.

Entertaining fans with their on court antics such as throwing buckets of water at referees, pulling opposing players shorts down or even bringing a fan out onto the court are what a Harlem Globetrotters basketball game is about now. It is basketball being played in a fun way which is always great for the entire family to experience. But let’s not forget the national impact that this team has made when it comes to civil rights. They had a part in breaking down a racial barrier on a league that is now predominantly African American. Without the Globetrotters “rebelling” or starting their own team and wanting to compete at the highest level, the NBA as we know it today may not even exist.

Since the teams inception the Harlem Globetrotters have played in 112 countries world wide in front of over 150 million fans of all race. The Globetrotters have been featured on two major films and numerous television series and were given a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame, due to their entertainment value. In 2002 their cultural influence and basketball skill were recognized with their enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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