The Harlem Globetrotters are an international symbol of the United States, truly "trotting" around the globe playing goodwill exhibition games with extraordinary athletic ability—like "Rocket" Rivers here going for a layup at a Royal Air Force base in Mildenhall, England.

Photograph by Senior Airman Tabitha M. Lee, courtesy U.S. Air Force

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    On January 7, 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team played their first game, in Hinkley, Illinois. They wouldn’t play a “home game” (in Harlem, New York City) until 1968.
     
    The Globetrotters were organized as an exhibition team in their hometown of Chicago, Illinois. The original team, the so-called “Savoy Big Five,” were named after the legendary ballroom (the Savoy) where the team played games before dances. The team soon changed its name to reflect the sophisticated New York neighborhood of Harlem, more than 1,000 kilometers away! 
     
    The Globetrotters were superb athletes who traveled around the Midwest, often giving spectators their first glimpse of a live basketball game. The team didn’t introduce its signature comedy routines until decades later.
     
    The Globetrotters were created long before African Americans were allowed to join the National Basketball Association (NBA). When the NBA lifted the “color barrier” in 1950, one of the first African American players to be drafted was a Globetrotter, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton. Another former Globetrotter, Wilt Chamberlain, was drafted in 1959 and still holds key NBA records, including most points scored in a game (100) and most points scored in a season (4,029).
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    athlete Noun

    person who participates or competes in sporting events.

    draft Verb

    to choose a player for a sports team.

    exhibition team Noun

    sports team that plays games where the outcome does not impact the team's ranking.

    glimpse Noun

    short look.

    legendary Adjective

    famous, heroic, or celebrated.

    Midwest Noun

    area of the United States consisting of the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

    neighborhood Noun

    an area within a larger city or town where people live and interact with one another.

    Encyclopedic Entry: neighborhood
    reflect Verb

    to rebound or return light from a surface.

    signature Adjective

    unique identifying feature or characteristic.

    sophisticated Adjective

    knowledgeable or complex.

    spectator Noun

    person who observes an event or situation.

    superb Adjective

    outstanding.