Surprising Facts About the Harlem Globetrotters

The famed comedy-basketball troupe the Harlem Globetrotters are gearing up for their 2017 world tour, which promises to be filled with impressive basketball skills and athleticism, laughs, and plenty of family-friendly fun. The Globetrotters are known for their unique fusion of comedy and basketball, but they have a rich, storied history with the game that may surprise some. Check out these facts you may not have known about the world renowned team.

  • The team originated in Chicago in 1926, not Harlem.
  • When then-manager Abe Saperstein took charge in the late 1920s, the team was known as the New York Harlem Globe Trotters, but primarily toured the Midwestern states of Iowa and Illinois.
  • The Globe Trotters did not play a single game in Harlem until 1968.
  • Prior to the creation of the NBA, the Globetrotters were among the best teams in the country, winning the World Professional Basketball Tournament in 1940.
  • They have set a total of 12 world records for basketball.
  • Seven of those records were set in a single day in 2015.
  • A previous record was set in 2000, when Michael “Wild Thing” Wilson slam dunked on a 12 foot high hoop.
  • The Globetrotters were inducted into the Naismaith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
  • Former player Mannie Jackson became the first African-American to own an international sports and entertainment organization when he purchased the team in 1993.
  • The team has performed in front of the Pope (in 2015, when Pope Francis was named an honorary member).
  • Other honorary team members include Whoopi Goldberg, Jesse Jackson, Bob Hope, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Nelson Mandela, Robin Roberts, and Pope John Paul II.
APTOPIX Vatican Harlem Globetrotters
Pope Francis was named an honorary Globetrotter in 2015.
  • The Globetrotters were the first team to play basketball in Europe.
  • A number of Globetrotters have gone on to become NBA legends, including Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins, Nat Clifton and Marques Haynes.
  • The team signed its first female player in 1985 when Olympic gold medalist Lynette Woodard joined the squad for two years.
  • After Woodard, the roster featured featured 12 more women.
  • By 2006, the Globetrotters had won 22,000 games.
  • They have a current winning percentage of .985.


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