NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — February is Black History Month, and perhaps no team has had as much impact on African American culture as the Harlem Globetrotters.
From Curley Neal to Meadowlark Lemon, the Globetrotters have given generations of fans entertaining memories.
As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer found out, that continues even on the streets of Manhattan.
New Yorkers are notoriously cranky, but a basketball might make them smile.
“We’ve been doing that for 91 years. Dribbling around the world and putting smiles on people’s faces,” Zeus said.
The Globetrotters are pro basketball players who will challenge anyone on the streets of New York.
As opposed to a team doing silly stuff the Harlem Globetrotters began on a barnstorming tour.
“The way we started was we would go around playing any team that was willing to play us. In the 40s and early 50s we played against some of the professional teams like the Lakers,” Flight Time said.
“There was a time the Globetrotters were beating teams by so much people were leaving early. We had to bring out a bucket of confetti or pull someone’s pants down or have a ball on a string, and that’s what kept us relevant over the past 91 years,” Zeus said.
The first African American basketball players in the NBA were former Harlem Globetrotters.
“Nat ‘Sweetwater’ Clifton played for the New York Knickerbockers,” Zeus said.
Everywhere they go they put a smile on people’s faces.
“I think that’s one of the coolest parts. Everywhere you go, not just here in NYC, but when people see this emblem it takes them back to a happier time in their lives when they went to a game with their parents or grandparents,” Zeus said.
Even when they’re walking the streets.
“You wanna be tall? You gotta drinka lot of milk and listen to your parents. So if you know an adult who’s short, they didn’t do one of those two things — I’m looking at you,” Zeus said gesturing to CBS2’s Overmyer.
The Globetrotters will be in Newark on Friday, and at the Garden through the holiday weekend. The Globetrotters not only broke the color barrier in the NBA in 1950, they broke the pro basketball gender barrier with a female member in 1985.