Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why Red Klotz Belongs In The Hall Of Fame

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Photo by rizha ubal. Used under creative commons
I mentioned in this weeks Randomness post how Goose Tatum is being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

I want to start off by saying that it's well deserved and long overdue. Tatum was one of the greatest basketball players of his era. Not to mention being the first marque star of the Harlem Globetrotters back when they were the greatest basketball team in the world.

It's  only a shame Tatum isn't alive to see how he is being honored. But I have no doubt he is looking down with appreciation from that big basketball court in the sky.

However, whenever I hear of someone being inducted, especially someone with ties to the Harlem Globetrotters or Washington Generals, it reminds me how sad I am that Red Klotz hasn't yet been inducted.

I know to some this sounds like a bias. That's a fair thing to wonder. After all, I wouldn't have started this blog if I wasn't a huge fan of Klotz.

But I am not alone in my feelings that Klotz should be in the Hall of Fame. Several names in basketball, including former Hall of Famer Chris Ford, have also campaigned several times in the past for Klotz induction.

It is a unique position to argue, I agree. Klots is the owner and former player/coach of a team that holds the largest percentage of losses in all of sports. And there is no doubt in my mind that the Washington Generals will hold that record for a long time to come, if not forever.

So why do I think the man who founded this "bunch of losers" deserves to be in the Hall of Fame? To me the real question is why is he not already in there. Lets look for a minute at the achievements of Klotz.

Red Kotz won an NBA title in 1948 while playing with the Baltimore Bullets. Which he managed to do in his one and only season in the NBA. He was a former owner of the Spha's one of the best teams of their era. He was also the oldest professional basketball player during his time with the generals, and has had the longest career in basketball.

We talk about some of the greats of the Harlem Globetrotters such as Wilt Chamberlain, Goose Tatum, Meadowlark Lemon, Connie Hawkins, Sweetwater Cliffton, and Lou Dunbar. You know what these men have in common? They all played against Red Klots, some of whom even spent their entire basketball career during Klotz reign.

But none of those reasons, as impressive as they are, are the reasons I think Klotz belongs in the Hall of Fame. No, the reason Klotz belongs in the Hall of Fame is because of everything he has done for the sport.

People are quick to point out the the Harlem Globetrotters are the ambassadors of basketball. And that is very accurate, the Globetrotters have introduced the sport of basketball all over the world. But you know who was there for the vast majority of their time helping them do that? Red Klotz.

From the early 50's to the mid 90's Klotz traveled the world along side the Globetrotters. Who knows how many miles he has traveled and how many countries he has visited, never mind how many people he has played in front of. I am betting even he doesn't know.

Klotz may have never been the featured act in the Globetrotters games against the Generals. But he spent a long time helping carry out their mission, of showing the world the great sport that the hall of fame honors. More than anyone I would wager.

Unfortunately, I sometimes fear that the Hall of Fame will never see that. To many people, Klotz is seen as "the guy who coaches the team who always loses." The Globetrotters, the players who once played for him, and his fans know the truth though. That Klotz is anything but.

I hope one day the Hall of Fame will see the same thing. If anyone deserves a spot in there, it's the man who devoted so much of his life to bringing the joy of basketball to the world. Literally.

And I hope unlike Tatum, they don't wait until he has moved on to the next world to do it.

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