The Harlem Globetrotters


The Savoie ballroom was a jewel of jazz age. Chicago theatre opened in the nineteen twenties just before people in the United States were hit by the Great Depression which left many Americans poor and hungry throughout the difficult time. The Savoie was a place to find joy on the south side of Chicago. The building was regularly filled with residents from the largely African American neighborhood. Who gathered to dance to some of the biggest stars of the day count basie Duke Ellington Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong? Were just a few of the people who banged out. Tunes as people jibed across the giant DANCEFLOOR. Dancefloor was so big that it actually doubled as a basketball court for the Savoy. Big Five in the late. Nineteen twenty s the five-man team hosted games to fill the slow nights in the ballroom. A young man in cab. Calloway would sometimes seeing during halftime but back then basketball wasn't very popular people cared about contests like horse racing and boxing baseball. Not The five on five game that depended on getting a ball through a hoop. It was a long way from the sport. We know much slower and much lower scoring than today. This team from Chicago would eventually work to change that. But they're Savoie audience could never have guessed how at some point. There was a dispute among the players of the Savoie five and they broke up. Three of them led by Tommy. Brooklyn's start a new team and rename themselves. The globetrotters it was an era of barnstorming. And when not at the Savoy they set out from Chicago to tour the Mid West region of America there were no organized leagues of teams and players in the Nineteen Twenties and thirties. Instead semi professional teams would travel from town to town and earn money playing teams from whatever town they were in sometimes. Businesses might have a team of employees so a barnstorming team like the globetrotters might play against some guys who had spent the whole day assembling cars canning vegetables or even driving taxi caps. Other Times barnstorming might play a team made up of members of a religious group. The House of David. Those guys never shaved so they played basketball with beards down to their bellies. Making James Harden's beard look like a five o'clock shadow soon. A young Jewish immigrant named Abe Sapper. Steam entered the picture with the globetrotters. Abe was a terrible basketball player but his other skills were valuable. He knew a lot of people who did bookings and many of these towns and more importantly he had a car these five teammates and their manager. Abe would pile into his model t like sardines attend camp and hit those cold slick winter roads. It was the nineteen twenties and they understood that random people in random midwest towns might be surprised to find that all five members of the team coming to play their local guys were African Americans. There were very few professional sports comprised of African Americans at this point so they decided to alter their name to help people know what to expect at the time. The most notable and best all black basketball team was known as the Harlem rent which was short for the Harlem Renaissance in the Nineteen Twenties and early thirties. The New York neighborhood of Harlem was an epicenter of black culture and it was a time referred to as the Harlem Renaissance. People knew about these incredible artists and musicians. Who lived there along with the writers like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston so the globetrotters who were very much from Chicago? Ask themselves how do we make ourselves sound dignified worldly and clearly a team of African Americans the Harlem Globetrotters? Will it matter that? We're not from Harlem that we've never tried it around the globe new super nope cool. Let's pile into a small unheeded car and go beat some people in basketball and they did just that it was remarkable. How good they are. They beat nearly every team from Wisconsin. Illinois Iowa anywhere else they went then they pile back into the car and head on down the road to the next game throughout the nineteen thirties. The team built up quite a reputation. They might have been the best basketball team in the world. No one agrees on how the famous tricks came into the game. A popular explanation is that they'd slip into the fun and flashy dribbles and drives after they safely put plenty of points on the board against their opponent. This did several things one it entertain the audience. Once the actual threat of competition was gone. No one wants to watch a blowout so a fun. Show of tricks kept the locals entertained but also no one wants to watch their local fellas get trounced a group from the city coming in and wiping the home team can really anger a local audience and the Harlem globetrotters new. This trick plays would thrill any crowd and win them over. The focus slowly became not about the final score but about how much fun it was to watch these incredible athletes and their astonishing an often humorous approach to the game. I we win. And then we cloud Abe Saperstein once said now most people agree that the real clowning didn't start until a man named goose. Tatum joined the team. Goose was an incredible athlete. Who could put the basket ball through the hoop with ease? But he also had a keen eye for comedy he found inspiration and funny movies and carefully watched the acts of clowns and other entertainers his favorite gags would show up on the basketball court. Sometimes goose would tiptoe over and pretend to spy on the opposing team's huddle all while making sure the audience in on the joke other times he'd hand the refs at trick ball after a timeout upon dribbling the ball. The referee grow angry because the ball never bounced back up. It just plopped devoid of air on the ground. Sometimes goose would disappear from the court altogether while the game continued only to be found in the audience eating popcorn. He even had a bit where he would pretend to be knocked unconscious on the court. The refs in his teammates would try everything to wake him up. But no amount of shaking or poking prodding would open his eyes. It was only the smell of his own Stinky Shoe. That would get him back up on his feet again. Much to the disgust delight of the audience in Nineteen forty-eight Abe Sapper Stein was with a friend who just so happened to own a basketball team called the Minnesota Lakers. The Lakers were the best team in the brand new professional basketball league which would soon become known as the NBA. The League did not allow black players on any of their teams regardless of League affiliation and regardless of the color of the player skin each man believed his team was the best in the world. They'd never meet in a league as it was so the natural solution was to stage an exhibition game between the Lakers and the globetrotters. It didn't seem so to the men at the time but game between an all white. Nba team and an all. Black semi pro team would prove monumental. Eighteen thousand people came out to watch which was easily twice. As many people as most professional basketball games would attract the time. And despite the fact that the Lakers star center who stood six speed and ten inches tall was seven inches taller than anyone else. On the court. The globetrotters one on a last second shot. It was a powerful moment. The next season those Lakers would go on to win the National Championship. But when they played the Harlem globetrotters a second time for a second exhibition between the two teams. The globetrotters came out on top yet again. The following year the NBA ended segregation and three of those same Laker Whooping Harlem globetrotters Chuck Cooper Nat Clifton and hang designee. Became three of the I four African Americans to join the League and play professional basketball. This was nineteen fifty three years. After Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier in baseball the globetrotters still continue their entertaining shows today. Keeping the spirit of barnstorming alive. They get a lot of credit for how they support communities and bring joy to so many and educate kids about health. But it's easy to forget about how important they were in integrating professional basketball. They now tour and play with just one team often known as the Washington generals according to most sources the globetrotters have beaten the generals over sixteen thousand times. How many times have they lost though? That question is harder to answer. But it's just a few. The most recent globetrotter loss was way back in one thousand nine hundred seventy one when both teams lost track of the score when clock expired. The generals were ahead. That was not supposed to happen. And people expected the GLOBETROTTERS TO WIN. And it's usually agreed that they will today. It's all about the show the fun and the love of basketball not the competition. This is what made that loss. So shocking reports from nine hundred. Seventy one SE. The stands were filled with silent shocked faces and even a few crying children. Luckily it's been smiles for all since then

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