Outlining the Future of the Harlem Globetrotters While Honoring its Roots


The role in which The Harlem Globetrotters played in the desegregation of sports, especially in the NBA, cannot be understated. In 1948 and 1949, The Globetrotters stunned the sports world by twice defeating the World Champion Minneapolis Lakers of the NBA. Many of basketball’s most famous names, from Wilt Chamberlain to Fred’ Curly’ Neal and Meadowlark Lemon, all donned that renowned red, white, and blue uniform. Noted for their on-court stunts and humor, the Globetrotters have set their sites in a new direction—a desire to play in the NBA. Sunni Hickman, Vice President of Marketing & Sales for The Harlem Globetrotters, spoke to Game Changers about the Globetrotters’ ambitions for the future.

When Hickman looks back at the history, she sees a clear line from where basketball is today and the path the Harlem Globetrotters forged. “The style of it, the components that they innovated,” Hickman said. “Basketball is an avenue for so many people whether you’re on the court, coaching, or behind the scenes. They opened the door for that.”

It’s important to tell the history of the Globetrotters in a way that will resonate with the fans. Hickman noted that many of today’s fans might not know the rich history of the Globetrotters and how the audiences they played for back in the early days may have been the first time such a sports audience saw players of color in the game. “It’s important to connect those dots,” Hickman said.

And to secure that history and make memories for the next century of Globetrotters fans, Hickman said the goal is for the Harlem Globetrotters to be an official part of the NBA. With expansion team talk in the air, now could be the perfect time to make one of the world’s best-known basketball teams one of the NBA’s.

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