The Harlem Globetrotters are worldwide icons, synonymous with family entertainment and great basketball skills. The Globetrotters represent 90-plus years of breaking down barriers, acts of goodwill and a commitment to fans that goes beyond the game.
Abe Saperstein founded the team in 1926, and they played their first road game in Hinckley, Illinois, on Jan. 7, 1927. Since then, the Globetrotters have entertained more than 148 million fans in 123 countries and territories worldwide, introducing many to the sport of basketball. The team are pioneers in popularizing the slam dunk, the fast break, the forward and point guard positions, and the figure-eight weave. In 2010, the Globetrotters also introduced the first-ever 4-point shot, a shot located 30 feet from the basket – almost 7 feet beyond the NBA’s three-point arc.
In 1940, the Globetrotters won their first World Basketball Championship, defeating the Chicago Bruins. In 1948 and 1949, the Globetrotters stunned the world by twice defeating the World Champion Minneapolis Lakers of the NBA. The Globetrotters were socially influential and quickly became recognized as the world’s best basketball team, showing that African-Americans could excel on a professional level.
The victories over the Lakers accelerated the integration of the NBA, as Globetrotter Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton became the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract when he joined the famed New York Knicks in 1950. The Globetrotters also embarked on their first-ever international tour in 1950, played before their largest crowd ever – 75,000 – at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium in 1951 and finished the decade with their first-ever trip to the Soviet Union in 1959.
The legendary Wilt Chamberlain was part of that historic Soviet Union tour, as the Hall of Famer played a full season with the Globetrotters in 1958-59. After starting his NBA career, he still played parts of several other seasons with the Globetrotters, joining the team when he could between NBA seasons. Chamberlain said that some of the most pleasant days of his life were playing for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Saturday, January 11 at 4:00pm
Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center , Coliseum
200 Civic Center Dr, Charleston, WV 25301