The Harlem Globetrotters were formed by Abe Saperstein in 1926 with the goal of being a serious basketball team. In the early years, the team would play anyone and beat nearly every team they played. In 1940, the Globetrotters won the World Basketball Championship when they defeated the Chicago Bruins. The Globetrotters became famous around the world, but it wasn’t because they won the Championship. They clowned around and did outrageous stunts during games and that made them popular with fans!
The Globetrotters’ first stunt man was Inman Jackson. He had an amazing sense of humor and made sure other players and spectators alike could laugh and have fun throughout the games. Players would spin the ball on their fingers, make baskets by bouncing the ball off their heads, line up in football formation, and Jackson would even drop-kick the ball into the hoop! The team continues to awe fans with their athleticism and comedy efforts today!
Other famous players for the Harlem Globetrotters include funny man Reece Tatum who had a 7 foot “wing span” and was nicknamed Goose, Meadowlark George Lemon III who was a passing and ball-handling wizard in the 1950s, future NBA superstar Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, and the dazzling Connie “The Hawk” Hawkins who could dribble, pass, and leap better than any other player before him.
- The first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters was Lynette Woodard who joined the team in 1985. Woodard went on to play for the gold-medal-winning 1984 U.S. Olympic team and played professionally in Italy and Japan.
- Mannie Jackson, nicknamed “Young Squirrel” for his endless energy, played for the Globetrotters in the 1960s and went on to buy the team for $5.5 million in 1993. His business savvy saved the team from bankruptcy and he sold the team for $100 million in 2006.
- In its 98-year history, the team has played over 26,000 exhibition games in 124 countries and territories, and has earned 75 championships.
- The shortest player on the 2023 roster is Jahmani “Hot Shot” Swanson who stands at 4 feet 5 inches tall.
The Harlem Globetrotters: Clown Princes of Basketball by Robbie Butler
Basketball: Great Moments, Records, and Facts by Teddy Borth (Hoopla eBook)
Scooby Doo Meets the Harlem Globetrotters (Juvenile Feature Film)