Created by the Harlem Globetrotters organization in 1993, the “Legends” ring is presented to retired Globetrotters who have made a major contribution to the success and development of the Hall of Fame organization. Each honoree exemplifies the Harlem Globetrotters’ humanitarian contributions and it’s the second highest honor a former player can receive outside of jersey retirement.
The rest of the Legends Ring:
A current Globetrotter head coach, former point guard great Jimmy Blacklock played in over 2,500 games for the Ambassadors of Goodwill, visiting 62 countries during his standout playing career.
Now in his 10th season as a full-time Globetrotters coach, Blacklock was a point guard and dribbler for the Globetrotters from 1974 to 1987, one of the most popular times in the team’s history. He appeared on popular TV shows such as ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” “The Tonight Show,” “The White Shadow,” “The Love Boat,” “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.”
Blacklock joined the Globetrotters after a stellar career at the University of Texas, where he was one of the first African American players ever to play at the school. He was honored as the Longhorns’ Most Valuable Player his junior season after leading the team in scoring, and he was the team captain his senior year.
Blacklock earned induction into the school’s Men’s Hall of Honor in 2016. His son Ross, a defensive tackle, was drafted by the Houston Texans in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Blacklock was presented with his Globetrotters Legends Ring on February 28, 2020, in Austin, Texas, at the Frank Erwin Center on the campus of the University of Texas.
Former Harlem Globetrotters standout and Indiana basketball star Hallie Bryant helped lead the Indiana Hoosiers to the Big Ten Conference title in 1957.
Interestingly, Bryant was offered the “Legends” honor in 1998, but he selflessly asked that it instead be bestowed upon his Globetrotter teammate, and childhood friend, Willie Gardner, who was suffering from diabetes at the time. Gardner, who played three seasons with the Globetrotters and had signed a contract with the New York Knicks before a heart condition forced him to retire, passed away in 2000.
“I guess now is the right time for me,” Bryant said when the “Legends” award was offered again in 2009. “When I was approached back in 1998, I knew that Willie was in poor health, and I thought it would be more appropriate to pay homage to a man who had been like a brother to me, so I respectfully asked the team to give the honor to Willie.”
A life-long resident of Indiana, Bryant graduated from historical Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, was Indiana’s “Mr. Basketball” in 1953, was a three-year letter winner at Indiana University, and is a member of the state of Indiana and IU Basketball Halls of Fame. Following a two-year stretch as a commissioned officer of the U.S. Army, Bryant joined the Globetrotters for what would be a 27-year career. Bryant visited more than 87 countries in 13 years as a player, and then continued his relationship with the organization as an official spokesperson and director of team personnel.
He was the 28th person honored by the Globetrotters with the team’s “Legends” award on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Jan. 19, 2009 – at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“It is with great pride that we honor Hallie Bryant with our ‘Legends’ ring,” said Globetrotters’ CEO Kurt Schneider. “He continues to live his life in the true spirit of a Harlem Globetrotter, always thinking of others and giving back to the community every chance he gets. Globetrotter icons Curly Neal and Tex Harrison highly recommended Hallie for this honor, and there is no better endorsement than that.”
One of the most famous and dominant players in Harlem Globetrotters history, Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain began his professional career in 1958 when the Globetrotters signed the University of Kansas standout to one of the largest contracts in sports.
The 7-1 center was often quoted that his time with the Globetrotters was the most enjoyable of his career. He was a member of the first-ever Harlem Globetrotter team to play in Moscow in 1959. The team enjoyed a sold-out tour of the USSR and prior to the start of a game at Moscow’s Lenin Central Stadium, the Globetrotters were greeted by General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev.
Following his Globetrotter career, Chamberlain starred in the NBA from 1959 through 1973, playing for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Lakers. He totaled 31,419 points and 23,924 rebounds during his career, averaging 30.1 ppg and 22.9 rpg. Chamberlain enjoyed his finest season in 1962, averaging an NBA record 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game. Highlighting the year was his 100-point effort against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962. During his NBA career, his dominance brought on many rules changes, including widening the lane, introducing offensive goaltending and revising rules governing free throw shooting (Chamberlain would jump from behind the foul line with the ball and lay it in the basket before the rules were revised).
Chamberlain, who passed away on Oct. 12, 1999, at the age of 63, was posthumously honored by the Globetrotters on March 9, 2000, when the team retired his jersey (#13) and inducted him into the “Legends” Ring. The ceremony, which marked the first-ever jersey retirement by the Globetrotters, took place at Chamberlain’s high school in Philadelphia, Overbrook High School Gymnasium.
Throughout his illustrious career, fans across the world adored “Sweet” Lou Dunbar’s on-court comedy routines and shared his love of the game. Now he is passing that love and considerable knowledge on to a new generation of Globetrotters as the team’s director of player personnel.
One of the most revered players in Globetrotter history, Sweet Lou has traveled three times around the world, playing in front of more than 10 million people on six continents. Among his many travels, Sweet Lou was one of the Globetrotters on hand when the team visited Rome and named Pope John Paul II an Honorary Globetrotter on Nov. 29, 2000.
He was discovered by a Globetrotter scout during a summer pro league with the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Sweet Lou has made Houston his permanent home since starring for the University of Houston from 1972-1975. At 6-10, he was one of the first big men to play point guard for a major university. He also played forward and center for the Cougars, earning All-American honors, and was inducted into the University of Houston Hall of Honor on Nov. 15, 2008. As a senior at Webster High School in Minden, La., he was named “Mr. Basketball of Louisiana,” joining other former Louisiana stars such as Willis Reed, Bob Pettit and Elvin Hayes.
The 25th person to receive the “Legends” distinction, Sweet Lou was honored on Feb. 9, 2007, at Houston’s Toyota Center.
A 6-9 silky smooth forward, “Wee” Willie Gardner was one of the first players signed by the Harlem Globetrotters prior to the 1954 season at the age of 19. The young phenom from Indiana quickly made an impact with the Globetrotters, helping the team capture the “World Series of Basketball” title against the College All-Americans in 1954. The 21-game series attracted an attendance of 277,393 as the Globetrotters posted a 15-6 record and Gardner was named Most Valuable Player. The former Crispus Attucks High School standout duplicated his efforts during the 1957 “World Series of Basketball”
enroute to earning MVP honors for the second time.
After three seasons with the Globetrotters, Gardner signed a two-year contract with the NBA’s New York Knickerbockers in April of 1957. However, he never played for the Knicks as a heart impairment required him to retire at the pinnacle of his young and promising career. Born on October 30, 1933, Gardner was named to the Silver Anniversary Team by the Indiana Hall of Fame in 1977.
He received his “Legends” ring during a special halftime ceremony at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis on January 17, 1998. Gardner passed away on Sept. 28, 2000, just a month shy of his 67th birthday.
In the days of the cage game, William “Pop” Gates was considered one of the nation’s finest basketball players. Always a scoring threat, Gates was a complete ballplayer on offense, a defensive specialist, and a strong rebounder. The 6-2 guard/forward is one of few athletes who went directly from a high school championship team (Benjamin Franklin, New York, 1938) to a World Professional Champion (New York Renaissance, 1939). “Pop” concluded his playing career in 1955 after serving as player/coach of the Harlem Globetrotters for five years. Born Aug. 30, 1917, in Decatur, Ala., Gates is the only player to have appeared in all 10 World Professional Basketball Tournaments. In 1989, Gates was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
He was presented with his Harlem Globetrotters “Legends” Ring on Feb. 18, 1995, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Gates passed away on Dec. 2, 1999, at the age of 82.
J.C. Gipson began his outstanding career with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1952 and wore the famous red, white, and blue for 20-plus glorious seasons. His personality, superb playing ability, and outstanding flair for showmanship made him one of the most popular Globetrotters of all-time. Amazingly, Gipson had no college experience and played only a single season of high school basketball at Thomas Jefferson High in Los Angeles. Selected as the city’s “Prep Player of the Year,” Gipson was flooded with college offers but elected to sign a contract with the Globetrotters.
The 6-8, 250-pound forward could run the floor, shoot from long range and rebound with the best. He established a World Series of Basketball record by tallying 33 points against the 1953 College All-Americans in Chicago. Gipson was one of six Globetrotters animated in the popular Saturday morning Hanna-Barbera cartoon series in the 1970s. Off the floor, he served as a team spokesman and had an unbelievable relationship with children of all ages from around the world.
Gipson received his “Legends” Ring on Aug. 3, 1995, and passed away on Dec. 30, 2009.
One of the greatest Clown Princes in Harlem Globetrotters history, Robert “Showboat” Hall became one of the most popular players to ever wear the red, white, and blue uniform. A native of Detroit, he succeeded Goose Tatum as the top Clown Prince in 1955. Hall played in over 5,000 games in nearly 90 different countries during his outstanding career.
The former Miller High School star filled the dual role of court comedian and coach beginning in 1968, holding that role until he retired in 1974. A 6-2 pivot man, Hall learned his basketball trade at Detroit’s famed Brewster Center, a training ground of many top-notch Motor City athletes. He joined the Globetrotters in 1949 and quickly became the master of the fast-passing game and could do every ball trick in the book. “Showboat” Hall could do more with his feet than most players did with their hands, and he had the court sense that belonged to only a few legendary athletes of the game.
received his “Legends” ring during a special halftime ceremony at the Palace of Auburn Hills on February 1, 1998. Hall passed away in Detroit on Dec. 24, 2014, at the age of 87.
One of the great ball handlers and leapers in basketball history, a forerunner to Julius Erving and Michael Jordan at swooping to the basket, Connie Hawkins played four magical seasons with the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1960s. After touring with the Globetrotters, Hawkins joined the ABA’s Pittsburgh Pipers for the 1967-68 season and led them to the inaugural ABA title, en route to earning league Most Valuable Player honors. After playing the 1968-69 season with the ABA’s Minnesota Muskies, Hawkins jumped to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns for the 1969-70 campaign. The 6-8 forward spent seven years in the NBA and was selected to play in four NBA All-Star Games. Overall, the former University of Iowa standout appeared in 511 career NBA games (16.6 ppg) and 138 ABA games (28.2 ppg). Hawkins was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
“Hawk” received his Harlem Globetrotters “Legends” Ring on Jan. 22, 1994, during a pregame ceremony at America West Arena in Phoenix.
While Mannie Jackson was a standout player for the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1960s, his legacy with the Globetrotters and the game of basketball was as the team’s owner. Jackson became the first African-American to own a major international sports/entertainment organization when he purchased the Globetrotters in 1993. Jackson achieved a dramatic corporate turnaround, reviving the near-bankrupt organization and restoring its status as one of the most admired and publicized teams in the world while increasing revenue five-fold and rebuilding the fan base to near record levels.
During Jackson’s regime, the Globetrotters charitable contributions totaled more than $11 million. In the 1996-97 season, Jackson and the Globetrotters were instrumental in securing over $2 million to the Nelson Mandela African Children’s Foundation. In the fall of 1997, Jackson announced an endowment of $100,000 to the Lincoln School Alumni Foundation of Edwardsville, Ill., helping provide youth with college scholarships and pledged $250,000 to the Globetrotters Alumni Association.
In the 2001-2002 season, Jackson directly contributed $100,000 to the American Red Cross for the Disaster Relief Fund to help victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy. In 2003, Jackson presented the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with a quarter of a million dollar donation to continue basketball’s greatest legacy. In Jan. 2005, Jackson pledged $100,000 to UNICEF to aid victims of the tsunami in Asia, as well as a $250,000 donation to the Edwardsville YMCA. In Sept. 2005, Jackson donated $200,000 to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Jackson sold 80 percent of the team to Shamrock Capital Growth Fund in Sept. 2005 and stepped away from his day-to-day operations of the team when the Globetrotters announced the appointment of Kurt Schneider as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer in May 2007. Jackson remains the Globetrotters’ Chairman of the Board and still owns 20 percent of the team.
Born in a railway boxcar in Illmo, Mo., Jackson grew up in Edwardsville, Ill., earning the title of Illinois’ “Mr. Basketball,” and attended the University of Illinois, becoming the first African-American ever on the Illini basketball team, where he was named captain and earned All-American honors in 1960. He is also a charter member of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame, and a member of the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame, as well as a charter member of the Black Legends of Professional Basketball.
He received the Harlem Globetrotters “Legends” Ring on Aug. 3, 1993.
Showbiz Jackson toured for 20 seasons with the Globetrotters, serving as one of the team’s top showmen. He visited more than 75 countries during his standout career, appearing in several ESPN broadcasts and television commercials for the team. Jackson was known for his unbelievable behind-the-back half-court shot that he sank with remarkable accuracy. He did not play college basketball, but excelled on the gridiron as a standout wide receiver and tight end at Savannah State, where he earned all-league honors. A native of Savannah, Ga., Jackson attended Alfred Ely Beach High School, where he was a two-sport star in basketball and football. He currently resides in Buford, Ga., with his wife and is working on writing his second book.
Jackson received his “Legends” Ring during a special ceremony on Jan. 20, 2019, in Atlanta.
The former St. Ambrose College (Iowa) standout was born on March 11, 1915.
Bob Karstens was the third Caucasian to play for the Harlem Globetrotters (the others were founder Abe Saperstein and Bunny Leavitt), but Karstens had the rare distinction of being the first Caucasian player to be under contract with the team. Karstens joined the Globetrotters in 1943, when Reece “Goose” Tatum was drafted into the Army Air Corp during World War II. A native of Davenport, Iowa, Karstens was one of the original creators of the Globetrotters famous “Magic Circle” pregame routine, in addition to developing the “Goofball” (a gag basketball filled with off-center weights), the “yo yo” basketball, and the behind-the-back trick shot.
Karstens was presented with the Harlem Globetrotters “Legends” Ring on June 13, 1994, in New Orleans. Karstens passed away on Dec. 31, 2004.
A standout at Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Va., after graduating from Manhattan College in 1953, Junius Kellogg signed a contract with the Harlem Globetrotters. However, the 6-10 center’s promising basketball career was cut short at the age of 23, when a car crash in 1954 left him a paraplegic and confined him to a wheelchair.
Kellogg was honored in November 1997 for an act of courage that rocked college basketball in 1951. A star center and the first black player at Manhattan College, Kellogg declined a gambler’s offer to shave points in a college game and informed his coach of the offer. By the time the nationwide scandal was fully investigated, 32 players from seven national powers were found to have fixed over 85 games between 1947 and 1950. Kellogg was acknowledged by the media as a hero all across the country for his honesty and courageous decision to report the scandal.
Kellogg was presented with his “Legends” Ring in New York on Feb. 14, 1998. Kellogg passed away on Sept. 16 of that same year, at the age of 71.
Dr. John “Jumpin’ Johnny” Kline was a standout basketball leader on and off the court. Kline’s career with the Harlem Globetrotters spanned from 1953 to 1959 where he traveled all over the United States and abroad with the organization. During his tenure with the Globetrotters, they won the “World Series of Basketball” against the College All-Americans, and in 1959 posted their first undefeated season with 441 wins.
Originally from Detroit, Mich., Kline was a basketball All-American and 1952 Athlete of the Year at Wayne State University, Most Valuable Player in the first Motor City Tournament and a finalist in the United States Olympic trials for track before he joined the Globetrotters. After his career ended with the Globetrotters, Kline went back to Wayne State University and earned a doctorate in history and philosophy of education. He founded The Black Legends of Basketball in 1996, an organization that recognizes pioneers in the game of basketball.
Kline was honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with The Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award on August 11, 2011. The criteria for award winners includes embracing the core values of the game through hard work, dedication, and resilience; striving to continuously improve the community they serve, and making an ongoing commitment to others. Beyond the game, award winners must reflect the values of Mannie Jackson’s life-long mission to overcome obstacles and challenge the status quo, while taking responsibility for personal actions and seeking the highest standard of excellence. Kline passed away on July, 26, 2018, at the age of 86.
He received his “Legends” ring during a special ceremony at The Palace of Auburn Hills on February 3, 2002.
Louis “Red” Klotz, who was involved in over 19,000 games against the Harlem Globetrotters as a player, coach and owner, became the first non-Globetrotter to have a jersey retired by the team when the Globetrotters honored Klotz in his native Philadelphia on March 13, 2011. Klotz became only the sixth person in the Globetrotters’ history to receive this distinction, joining Curly Neal (No. 22), Goose Tatum (No. 50), Marques Haynes (No. 20), Meadowlark Lemon (No. 36), and Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13), as the only individuals ever so honored by the team.
For more than half a century, Klotz put together a team to face the Globetrotters, including the widely known and popular Washington Generals. The partnership began in 1952, when Globetrotters’ Owner Abe Saperstein offered Klotz the opportunity to form a team to play the Globetrotters.
Prior to his relationship with the Globetrotters, Klotz perfected his set shot and dribbling as a standout player at South Philadelphia High School, where he led the team to city championships in 1939 and 1940, both times earning Philadelphia Player of the Year honors. Klotz attended Villanova on a basketball scholarship from 1942-1944 and went on to play for the Philadelphia SPHAS of the American Basketball League from 1944-1947. Klotz joined the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets midway through the 1947-48 season, a season in which the Bullets went on to defeat the Philadelphia Warriors in six games to win the NBA title.
Klotz once waxed that, “Like Fred Astaire had Ginger Rogers, the Harlem Globetrotters have always had a dance partner…but I’ve always been dancing backwards.” Klotz’s teams played games in front of popes, kings and queens; on aircraft carriers, in bullrings, and on soccer fields; and in over 100 countries and thousands of cities around the world. The last time one of Klotz’s teams tasted victory over the Globetrotters came on January 5, 1971, in Martin, Tennessee, when Klotz, age 50 at the time, hit the game-winning shot as his New Jersey Reds defeated the Globetrotters 100-99.
He was the first non-Globetrotter to receive the “Legends” award, when he was presented with the honor on March 10, 2007, at the Liacouras Center, during the Globetrotters’ annual visit to Philadelphia.
Klotz passed away on July 12, 2014, at the age of 93.
During 24 seasons as the “Clown Prince” of the Harlem Globetrotters, Meadowlark Lemon – who passed away in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Dec. 27, 2015, at the age of 83 – played in more than 7,500 consecutive games for the red, white, and blue. He played before popes, kings, queens and presidents in nearly 100 countries around the world.
In April 1952, the Globetrotters received a letter from Meadowlark requesting a tryout. He was given a look, and after serving two years in the Army, was signed to a contract. Meadowlark played his first season with one of the Globetrotter developmental teams, the Kansas City Stars. He played his first season full season with the Globetrotters in 1954.
Meadowlark was part of an extremely popular period in Globetrotters history, appearing on several popular television programs and specials, including “ABC’s Wide World of Sports,” “CBS Sports Spectacular,” “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine.” He also appeared in numerous national TV commercials and was immortalized in animation on “The Harlem Globetrotters” cartoon series and on episodes of “Scooby Doo.”
Meadowlark was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, three years after receiving the John W. Bunn Award, named in honor of the Hall of Fame’s first executive director, recognizing outstanding lifetime contributions to basketball.
A native of Wilmington, N.C., Lemon received his Globetrotters “Legends” Ring and had his jersey (#36) retired as part of a 75th Anniversary black tie charity fund-raiser on Jan. 5, 2001, at Chicago’s Fairmont Hotel. Meadowlark spent the last several years of his life as an ordained minister and motivational speaker.
Osborne “Goose” Lockhart’s career spanned 17 years with the Harlem Globetrotters. Known for his ball handling skills and sharp shooting, he is considered one of the greatest all-around athletes to ever wear the red, white and blue. Lockhart was a Florida high school basketball star at Miami Jackson High School, as part of the unbeaten (33-0) 1974 championship team known as the “Miami Jackson Five,” which included fellow Bahamian Mychal Thompson. He was selected in the sixth round of the 1978 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers after a standout career at the University of Minnesota. He was a three-year starter at Minnesota, scoring over 1,100 points during his college career and was team captain for the Gophers during his senior campaign. A native of Nassau, Bahamas, Lockhart was an outstanding soccer player, and at the age of 15 played for the Bahamas National Team in the 1971 Pan American games. He was inducted into the Bahamas Hall of Fame in 2013. He currently resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where he serves as a coach and mentor at the Harmony Development Center.
Lockhart received his Legends Ring during a special ceremony at Target Center in Minneapolis on March 30, 2019.
Bobby Joe Mason’s career with the Harlem Globetrotters spanned from 1962 to 1976. During his tenure with the Globetrotters, he was named MVP of the 1962 College Series and was a part of the popular television series “Harlem Globetrotter Popcorn Machine.” While still a Globetrotter in 1971, Mason was named to the prestigious all-time All-Missouri Valley Conference team.
A native of Centralia, Ill., Mason was a standout guard at Centralia High School, where he played four years of basketball, scored more than 2,000 points and was selected to the all-state team during his final two years. Mason went on to a sensational All-American career at Bradley University and played in the East-West All Star game before he joined the Globetrotters. After his career ended with the Globetrotters, Mason returned to Illinois, to give back to the community that supported him throughout his basketball career.
Mason was honored on Jan. 4 and 5, 2003, when the Ambassadors of Goodwill played in Springfield and in Peoria, Ill. Mason passed away on July 4, 2006.
A native of Toledo, Ohio, Bernie Price moved to Chicago as a teenager and quickly became known in basketball circles as an outstanding, quick and powerful forward/center.
One of professional basketball’s original pioneers, The Harlem Globetrotters signed the 6-3 ½ standout in the mid-1930’s and he toured with the team for over 10 years. Price played in the annual World Professional Basketball tournament with the Globetrotters over a seven-year span (1939-45), and helped the team capture their first World Championship in 1940 with a 31-29 win over George Halas’ Chicago Bruins.
Price enjoyed one of his finest basketball campaigns during the 1941-42 season when he scored over 3,000 points in a 104-game Globetrotter season, an incredible achievement during an era of low scoring games. Price joined the National Basketball League (the predecessor to today’s NBA) in 1942 as a member of the Chicago Studebakers for one season. Price started at forward for the Studebakers and led the league in free throws made during his lone NBL season.
The Studebakers were the pioneers of racial integration, as nine of the 13 players on the roster in 1942-43 were African Americans. The NBL and the Studebakers were years ahead of professional baseball and football for breaking the color barrier. The 1950-51 season marked the first appearance of black players in the NBA, as Harlem Globetrotter Chuck Cooper became the first black player to be drafted in the NBA by Boston and teammate Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton became the first to sign an NBA contract when he signed with New York. Price passed away on Jan. 24, 2002.
Price became just the 14th person to receive the distinguished Harlem Globetrotter Legends award at Rosemont Horizon in Chicago on Feb. 26, 1999.
The original “Clown Prince of Basketball,” Harlem Globetrotters Legend Reece “Goose” Tatum is among a distinguished list of 10 players and coaches inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011.
Tatum was the first person elected from a newly formed Hall of Fame committee representing Early African-American Pioneers of the Game. Tatum was posthumously enshrined into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 12, 2011, in Springfield, Mass.
A Globetrotter for 12 remarkable seasons, Tatum was considered by many to be one of the greatest basketball players of his era and one of the best showmen in Globetrotter history.
In a 2002 article by Darren Ivy in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Marques Haynes – the first player inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a Globetrotter – said of his teammate, “Goose was responsible for creating great interest in basketball in this country and around the world…I’d say Michael Jordan is the Goose Tatum of today.”
Tatum started his athletic career in the late 1930s as a baseball player, where, as a standout first baseman, he would entertain the crowd with quick routines after put-outs. It was during this time that his outstanding all-around athletic ability and comedic timing caught the eye of Globetrotters’ founder Abe Saperstein. Once signed to the Globetrotters by Saperstein, Tatum quickly became an unstoppable basketball force. When he joined the Globetrotters, Tatum brought his natural athletic ability, uncannily accurate hook shot and comedic timing and applied them to basketball. Those traits still help to define the Globetrotters today.
He led the Globetrotters to historic defeats of George Mikan and the world champion Minneapolis Lakers in 1948 and 1949, paving the way for the integration of the game.
Following Tatum’s passing on Jan. 18, 1967, at the age of 45, Lawrence Casey of the Chicago Daily Defender wrote, “Like Joe Louis in boxing, Babe Ruth in baseball, Bobby Jones in golf…Goose Tatum was king of his chosen sport.”
Sixty years after his first season, the Harlem Globetrotters retired Tatum’s jersey number 50 and inducted him into the Globetrotters’ “Legends” Ring, on Feb. 8, 2002, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Govoner Vaughn joined the Harlem Globetrotters in 1960 and quickly established himself as one of the top players in the team’s history. He was named MVP of the 1961 World Series of Basketball, a 20-game series against the nation’s top college seniors. Prior to joining the Globetrotters, Vaughn was a three-year basketball letter winner at the University of Illinois, twice earning Converse All-America and All-Big Ten Conference honors.
Vaughn rejoined the Globetrotters during the 2010 World Tour as the team’s director of alumni relations, a position he also held from 2000-2005. Vaughn has received several community service awards for tutoring in the Detroit Public School System, coordinating and directing United Way drives, and counseling other youth organizations.
The Edwardsville, Ill., native was honored by the Harlem Globetrotters with his “Legends” Ring on Jan. 4, 2004, at the Savvis Center in St. Louis.
Lynette Woodard became the first woman to ever play for a men’s professional basketball team when she signed with the Harlem Globetrotters in October 1985, and she played with the Globetrotters until 1987. The six-foot guard was a four-time All-American (1978-81) at the University of Kansas, where she averaged 26.3 points per game during her college career.
The cousin of Globetrotter “Legend” Hubert “Geese” Ausbie, Woodard was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in 1989 and was a member of the 1984 United States Olympic team that captured the gold medal. Woodard played for the Cleveland Rockers of the WNBA during the summer of 1997 and was selected by the Detroit Shock in the 1998 WNBA expansion draft by then Shock Head Coach and General Manager Nancy Lieberman-Cline, a former member of the Washington Generals. Woodard was presented with a Harlem Globetrotters “Legends” Ring in 1996 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September 2004.
“Big” Frank Washington, a high-flying 6-foot-5-inch center, was a member of the first Harlem Globetrotter team to trek around the world in 1952. He played with the Globetrotters from 1946 to 1960 and traveled on six world tours with such historic Globetrotters as William “Pop” Gates, Marques Haynes, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton and Reece “Goose” Tatum. During World War II, Washington volunteered for the U.S. Navy, where his basketball career flourished and he was discovered by Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstein. During his journeys with the Globetrotters, Washington had two audiences with the Pope, met kings and queens, and appeared in two Globetrotter movies.
Washington received his “Legends” Ring during a special ceremony on March 16, 2002, in his native Philadelphia.
Wilson is the current Guinness World Record holder for the highest slam dunk ever recorded, setting the mark at 12-feet during Final Four Weekend in April of 2000. An exhibit at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is dedicated to his soaring accomplishment. The Memphis native played 11 seasons with the Globetrotters, thrilling thousands of fans with his amazing slam dunks. Wilson traveled to nearly 60 countries during his standout Globetrotter career and was a two-time slam dunk champion at the NABC College All-Star Game. The 6-5 forward starred at the University of Memphis, playing in the 1995 and 1996 NCAA Tournaments. Currently, Wilson lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and three children, where he works as Recreation Specialist for D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.
Just the 30th person to receive the “Legends” distinction, Wilson was honored on Jan. 18, 2019, at the FedEx Forum in his hometown of Memphis.