Who doesn’t love the Harlem Globetrotters?
With their precision shots and hilarious stunts, these phenomenal athletes are admired around the world. But there’s much more to this remarkable team than you might think.
My new picture book SWISH! THE SLAM-DUNKING, ALLEY-OOPING, HIGH-FLYING HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS (illustrated by Don Tate), which releases today from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers shares the incredible history and groundbreaking achievements of the high-flying Globetrotters.
The book’s illustrator, Don Tate, and I are huge Globetrotter fans, so this project was a labor of love. And after discovering many surprising facts about the team during our research, we became even more fanatical about the Globetrotters. (Fyi – a Nerdy Book Club post shares some of our research.)
Of course, we learned more about this iconic team than we could include in the book or this post. So behold our…
TOP TEN SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS
1) The Globetrotters started in Chicago (my hometown!) in the 1920s. Many of those first players were from Chicago’s Wendell Phillips High School.
The book trailer below includes those first players, priceless early footage of the Globetrotters, and a peek at Don Tate’s stunning illustrations!
2) The early Globetrotters packed into a Model-T and barnstormed their way across the country. They played in barns, basements, the bottom of a swimming pool, and other unlikely venues.
3) Fans cheered for the team while they were on the court, but after the game the players weren’t allowed in many restaurants or hotels.
4) Boid Buie, who joined the team in 1946, had only one arm!
5) In the 1940s professional basketball teams didn’t allow black players. So in 1948 the Globetrotters challenged the best team in the National Basketball League, the Minneapolis Lakers — and won!
6) The Trotters didn’t start wearing their signature candy striped shorts until the late 40s.
7) Two Hollywood movies, The Harlem Globetrotters and Go, Man, Go! (with Sidney Poitier), lit up the big screens in the early 1950s.
(Sidenote: In 1981, Globetrotter players appeared in The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, a comedy TV movie with the original Gilligan’s Island cast.)
8) The Globetrotters broke the color barrier in the NBA!
Actually, three Globetrotters played a part in this historic event. In 1950, Chuck Cooper was the first black player drafted into the NBA. Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton was the first to sign an NBA contract. And Earl Lloyd was the first black player to step foot on the court and play an NBA game.
9) The Globetrotters served as peacemakers around the world.
Team members met with “popes, princes, and presidents, and even sipped team with the queen of England!” In fact, the winsome players were so effective at repairing America’s relationships with other countries, the US State Department called them, “Ambassadors of extraordinary goodwill.”
10) Lynette Woodard became the first female Globetrotter in 1985.
After our research ended, Don and I made another discovery while creating video presentations about SWISH! for conferences — our lack of basketball skills! (Which resulted in this short “basketball bloopers”)
Thanks for joining our slam-dunking celebration of SWISH! and the extraordinary Harlem Globetrotters, who played non-stop, give-it-all-you-got, out-to-win-it, sky’s-the-limit basketball!
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Giveaway: One person will be randomly selected from those who leave a comment on the post to win a free virtual author classroom visit (with Suzanne Slade.)
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P.S. Two great Globetrotter videos you might enjoy:
Harlem Globetrotter’s “One Take” (Incredible!)
Congrats to the winners from the Oct. 6th #20TruePBS post (notified via email) : Melissa Allen, Cathy L. Murphy, Jackie Villano, Amber Michael, Lori Dubbin, YauMei Chiang, Vickie Blankenship, and Alexis Ennis