Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, than by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by talking about a famous team.
In the one hundredth and eighteenth episode of The Simpsons, Homie the Clown (Season 06, Episode 15), Krusty is burning through his money, both figuratively and literally – using hundred dollar bills, Action Comics issue #1, and pearl necklaces to light his cigarettes.
Due to financial difficulties, Krusty opens a Clown College, which Homer attends and graduates to become a regional Krusty.
But Krusty takes his new found money and bets it all again the Harlem Globetrotters. When questioned by his manager, Krusty says that he “thought the Generals were due!”.
Krusty keeps yelling at the Harlem Globetrotters on TV. “He’s spinning the ball on his finger! Just take it! Take the ball!”.
Unfortunately the Harlem Globetrotters win. He then shouts “That game was fixed! They used a freakin’ ladder for God’s sake!”. But unfortunately Krusty owes the mafia money.
Krusty escapes but then the mob catches Homer, mistaking him for Krusty, to settle the Harlem Globetrotters bet.
But have you ever wondered who the Harlem Globetrotters are?
The Harlem Globetrotters are an American exhibition basketball team. They combine athleticism, theater, and comedy in their style of play.
The Harlem Globetrotters originated on the South Side of Chicago in 1926, where all the original players were raised. The Harlem Globetrotters began as the “Savoy Big Five”, one of the premier attractions of the Savoy Ballroom, opened in January 1928. They were a basketball team of Black American players that played exhibitions before dances due to declining dance attendance. In 1928, several players left the team in a dispute. That autumn, those players, led by Tommy Brookins, formed a team called the “Globe Trotters” and toured southern Illinois that spring. Abe Saperstein became involved with the team as its manager and promoter. By 1929, Abe was touring Illinois and Iowa with his basketball team called the “New York Harlem Globe Trotters”. Abe selected the name Harlem because it was then considered the center of Black American culture and the name Globetrotter to mythologize the team’s international venues.
Abe Saperstein (July 4, 1902 – March 15, 1966)
The Harlem Globetrotters were perennial participants in the World Professional Basketball Tournament, winning it in 1940. In a heavily attended matchup a few years later, the 1948 Globetrotters–Lakers game, the Harlem Globetrotters made headlines when they beat one of the best white basketball teams in the country, the Minneapolis Lakers. The Globetrotters continued to easily win games due to Harlem monopolizing the entire talent pool of the best black basketball players in the country.
Once one of the most famous teams in the country, the Harlem Globetrotters were eventually eclipsed by the rise of the National Basketball Association, particularly when NBA teams began fielding black players in the 1950s. Harlem 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.
Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton (October 13, 1922 – August 31, 1990)
Over the years, they have played more than 26,000 exhibition games in 124 countries and territories, mostly against deliberately ineffective opponents, such as the Washington Generals (1953–1995, since 2015) and the New York Nationals (1995–2015).
In all, close to 750 men and women have played for the world famous team, a team which has entertained popes, kings, queens, and presidents around the globe. The Harlem Globetrotters have honoured eight players by retiring their numbers, starting with NBA lagend Wilt Chamberlain (played 1958-1959), followed by Marques Haynes (1947–1953, 1972–1979), Fred “Curly” Neal (1963–1985), Charles “Tex” Harrison (1954–1972), Hubert “Geese” Ausbie (1961–1985), Meadowlark Lemon (1954–1979, 1993), “Sweet” Lou Dunbar (1977–current), and most recently Goose Tatum (1941–1943, 1945–1955).
Wilt Chamberlain (August 21, 1936 – October 12, 1999)
Now that we’ve learned more about the Harlem Globetrotters, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
Did you remember this episode? Have you ever seen the Harlem Globetrotters? Did you ever bet on sports? Did you remember Homer going to Clown College? What’s your favourite The Simpsons sports team reference? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.