The basketball acrobats and magicians in the Harlem Globetrotters may trot the globe, but the team is a uniquely American entertainment phenomenon, from their red, white and blue color scheme to the entrepreneurial ingenuity that spawned them.
The Globetrotters’ origins stretch back to 1926, when a team was created to play exhibition basketball games before dances in Chicago to drum up attendance (fun fact: the Harlem Globetrotters didn’t play in Harlem until 1968; the name was chosen mostly for mystique). Between ever-expanding tours, at tournaments, the team turned heads with their depth and talent. When NBA teams began signing African-American players in the ’50s, many turned to the Globetrotters to enhance their rosters. None other than the legendary Wilt Chamberlain cut his teeth as a Globetrotter in the late ’50s.
Thrilling “children of all ages” all over the world, the Globetrotters have also been an integral part of American pop culture. For decades, they’ve appeared in movies and television, including several of their own children’s shows and cartoons. In 1981 they famously co-starred in The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island and have appeared on everything from The Love Boat, Scooby Doo and Sesame Street to The Simpsons, American Dad and The Goldbergs.
The team roster has rotated regularly over the years (obviously); current players have included Big Easy Lofton, Ant Atkinson, TNT Lister and Swish Sutton.
2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28. $31-$133. Heritage Bank Center, 100 Broadway St., Downtown, heritagebankcenter.com.