On this day 90 years ago the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game in Hinkley Illinois (right outside Chicago) Abe Saperstein founded the team after he took over coaching duties for a team of African American players. The team was originally called Savoy Big Five. African Americans were not able to play in the pros. The team was named after the famous neighborhood of Harlem in New York City. The racial makeup of the team was promoted and the Globetrotters to make is seem as if they had traveled around the world. Saperstein came up with red, white and blue uniforms.
Players for the first globetrotters featured Andy Washington, Willis "kid" Oliver, Walter "Toots" Wright, Byron "Fat" Long and Al "Runt" Pullins. The team was payed $75 for the first game. The team played a total of 117 games that first year and won 101 of them. Sapserstein was the owner, coach, promoter and even substitute player. The globetrotters would play a total of 1,000 games in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana in the first 10 years. It would not be til the '60's that the team would play their first game in Harlem
The globetrotters participated in the World Professional Basketball Tournament on a yearly basis. In 1940 the Globetrotters was the big winners of the tournament and the team also started to participate in on court antics. Juggling acts and over the top shots were just a few tricks that they would participate in. Saperstein told the players to continue in the antics as long as they had a lead in the game.
The globetrotters would beat the Minneapolis Lakers in 1948. The NBA had just formed and a few years later black players were being allowed to play. This was the first year that Saperstein would compete for his talent. The talent and antics of the globe tropics would continue and become an international sensation.
The Globetrotters have had stars with talent like Wilt Chamberlain, Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal and more . The team has played in more than 115 countries in front of millions of fans. There have even been cartoons based on the Harlem Globetrotters.