Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Globetrotter Magic


The Globetrotters lost?

While it sounds like big news, actually it’s part of a “regeneration” of the Globetrotters as a basketball team.

For years early in their formation, the Trotters were a barnstorming, take on all comers team full of talented players. Abe Saperstein, the Trotters founder, believed being a good basketball player was the essential thing he was looking for from perspective Harlem Globetrotters. He was also looking for a little personality.

The NBA was in its infancy, salaries were low, race was an issue and the Trotters were a place where the game was fun. Not a lot of teams would take on the Harlem Globetrotters for fear of embarrassment. They even signed Wilt Chamberlain out of Kansas before he embarked on his NBA career.

Through the 60’s and 70’s the Trotters evolved into mainly a comedy act with some basketball sprinkled in. “Meadowlark” Lemon, Curly Neal and “Sweet” Lou Dunbar, carried the torch for the most famous basketball team in the world. They played almost every night, beating the Washington Generals and now the New York Nationals, handily.

I used to go to the Globetrotters every year with my Dad at the Baltimore Civic Center. The Civic Center was small, and you were close to the court so you saw the jokes firsthand. Oh, how I wanted to sit I the front row once and have Meadowlark throw that bucket of confetti in my face!

I used to always wonder how good the Globetrotters really were. I asked my father what Meadowlark meant when he yelled “cover the white guy” during a game in the ’60’s. I hadn’t noticed the Trotters were all black. They were just funny, talented heroes who never lost.

Manny Jackson bought the Trotters in 1993 and embarked on taking part of their legacy and make it part of their future.

Real basketball.

It’s a great idea.

They beat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Legendary All-stars 10 out of 11 times in 1995. That’s the last time they lost before Monday night’s against Michigan State.

When I read the story about the loss and the quotes from the players and coaches of the Trotters it surprised me a bit when they didn’t blow the loss off as part of the show.

It shouldn’t have.

As all athletes say, when there’s competition to be had, and they’re keeping score, winning is important. Jackson talked about “missed baskets in the paint” and “not getting to the free-throw line enough” as reasons for the loss.

He didn’t mention the football game that broke out, or the “weave” or somebody hiding the ball under his shirt while play was going on. Maybe the ref didn’t do his job after taking the ball with no air in it and slamming it to the floor!

They’re the most successful professional sports team ever. There are a few team names that conjure up instant images: the Yankees, the Canadiens, the Celtics and certainly the Harlem Globetrotters. When somebody whistles “Sweet Georgia Brown” do you think of anything else but the Trotters in the “Magic Circle?”

More than 20,000 wins to their credit. Winning streaks of nearly 9,000, 2,500 and most recently 1,270 games. They’re known as the greatest ambassadors in the world. American ambassadors, sports ambassadors, ambassadors of fun.

I had forgotten that.
I won’t again.
I’m checking their schedule.
I can’t wait to take my son to see the Trotters.