Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lets Not Forget The Washington Generals Contributions To Support The Troops

Photo courtest of the U.S. Air Force.
In a recent interview with CNN the Harlem Globetrotters saluted our troops, as well as got accolades for all the great things they have done for the troops. Most notably, the 25 military bases they have visited in the last seven years.

I take nothing away from what the Globetrotters have done for our boys and girls in uniform. I can think of nothing more honorable for entertainers, be them athletes, singers, actors or any other than to perform for our boys overseas. Especially in the rough times our country has faced in recent years.

But like with most of the Globetrotters accomplishments since 1953, the Trotters never could have done it without their long time opponents and partners the Washington Generals. It was with their help that the Globetrotters were able to give our soldiers and families the escape they most definitely needed.

Since starting this blog I have read a LOT of interviews with Washington Generals players, both past and present. And when asked the common question about their best memory with the team, the most common answer is performing for our troops.

During their time on the road the Washington Generals will perform in the greatest NBA courts in the country, and some of the richest and most luxurious vacation destinations. Considering the less than desirable places they have gone to put on the show for our boys and girls in uniform, such as the Persian Gulf and Iraq all during war time, it says a lot for how much these stops mean to the Generals that so many of them hold those stops closest to their heart.

So as we near celebrating our Independence I just wanted to give credit to the Washington Generals for their role in helping and supporting the men and women who help us keep the freedom we enjoy so much.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Randomness Week 7 (Includes Trotters Draft Update)

Copyright © by Alan in Belfast. Used under creative commons.
Former New York National Mike Atkinson posted a new entry on his Elite Pro Performance blog. CLICK HERE TO READ IT!

The Spokesman-Review posted an article about Washington General Eric Beal. CLICK HERE TO READ IT!

An article about Zero Public Relations relationship with The Nancy Lieberman Foundation included a great look at Nancy's history. CLICK HERE!

Looks like the Generals might have to worry about Jacob Tucker after all. So far he has shown the most interest out of all of the draft choices, and has said in interviews he will be attending the training camp in August. This doesn't mean he is on the team, and it is possible he is using this opportunity for publicity hoping for another offer. But he has been the player of the five draft choices eligible (I am not counting McCabe as even if he does join it won't be for around another 10 years) to show the most interest. So if any of the draft choices were to end up signing with the Trotters it will probably be him.

Not good news for the Generals to be sure, but the Trotters would be lucky to have him.

The Harlem Globetrotters website posted a press release talking about their donation to VisionSpring, a non-profit dedicated to making eyeglasses affordable in some of the poorest areas of the world. CLICK HERE TO READ IT!

I also found a great article about the Harlem Globetrotters. No real mention of the Generals, but being a fan of both (just more of a fan of the Generals.) I thought I would still share it. CLICK HERE!

The Harlem Globetrotters recently did an interview saluting our troops. I will be doing an article following up on it, probably tomorrow. But in the mean time here is the interview with Dizzy, Big Easy, and Flight Time. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Video Showing A Glimpse Of Life On The Road With The Generals And Globetrotters

I came across the most awesome video and had to share it with you guys.

It was made by former photo director for the Harlem Globetrotters, Benjamin Hager. Ii is photos he took from his time with the team. They are mostly though his iphone and blackberry.

The majority of the photos are obviously of the Globetrotters but there are some great photos of the Washington Generals also among them as well as some great glimpses behind the scene.

It is a fun glimpse at life on the road with the Harlem Globetrotters, and is excellently edited and put together as well. I think everyone will enjoy watching it. I know I sure did.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Review: New York Nationals vs Harlem Globetrotters Holiday Special on ESPN Classic (1999)

The nationals name listed up top. Where it belongs!
I was going through my old VHS tapes and found a surprise. It was an old tape of the New York Nationals taking on the Harlem Globetrotters at the Wide World of Sports Complex.

I decided to play it for old times sake, and so it wasn't a complete time killer I figured I would do a review of it as well. Nothing like vintage Generals (or Nationals in this case) to make me feel nostalgic.

The special was copy written 2002 but I assume it is a replay being it was on ESPN classic, because the game was most definitley from their 1999 tour.

As has been well covered on this blog, for 12 years the Washington Generals changed their name to the New York Nationals while still continuing to chase their illusive seventh win against the Globetrotters.

Among the players for the Nationals in this game were future Globetrotter Elijah Hobley, Kevin Thibodeaux, and team captain and long time National Doug Stewart.
 
They went up against a Globetrotters team that included both of the teams Showmen, Paul Gaffney and Matt Jackson. Both of whom sported the nickname "Showbiz", Glad Big Easy and Special K didn't continue that silly tradition. Clearly for the telecast they combined the Globetrotter touring teams. Gaffney played in the first and last quarter, and Jackson playing the second and third quarter.

I will be honest, this was not one of the Nationals best games. They fell behind by 10 points early and never could bridge the gap enough to really give a contest. The final score being 69-91 Globetrotters. 

Now don't get me wrong, them losing course not a surprise of course, but losing by over 20 points... they are able to keep the game closer than that. This clearly was not a good night for them. 

Both teams did play well this game though, and in fact there was a lot of "legitimate" basketball. Using the older formula as they played mostly straight ball in the beginning and didn't really begin the high jinks until near the end of the first quarter. 

The Nationals played their common solid offence, their defense was better then usual but as always was lackluster by design. The Trotters indecently were on fire with their own defense, the main reason for such a large win. 

A lot of the classic bits were there. With Curly "Boo" Johnson (one of the best dribblers the Trotters have ever had.) did his ream of keep away dribbling, with the Generals all doing their part in the bit perfectly. The weave was also in effect and both teams performed their part in it perfectly. It seemed like they used it less than usual, but it is possibly my nostalgic memory is just thinking it was done more than it actually was.

They also did their reams with the kids, both bringing a little girl out to spin the ball on her finger and a little boy out to shoot a basket. The boy almost stole the show away from Gaffney. It is also surreal to watch it now realizing that those two kids are now in their 20's. I bet they still remember that day fondly.

One disappointing thing, there was no pantsing! It is even a Washignton Generals vs Globetrotter game without the pantsing? I don't know if we just didn't see it, but if the fans in the crowd didn't get to watch a National get his pants pulled down they should consider asking for their money back.

One thing I really liked about this game is that they had a scoreboard on the side of the screen through most of the game. This is something not done enough on Globetrotter telecast. I know it's because most of them are edited after the fact, but it gives the illusion of watching a "real" basketball game a lot more when the score is taken into account.

In fact, I don't know if the game was originally broadcast live but the whole thing definitley felt more like watching a game as it happned, instead of the slick and clearly edited version ESPN2 is currently re-running of the Generals current tour.

The announcers, Sam Smith and Reggie Theus, were not shy to mention the New York Nationals by name when covering the game. A big contrast to the current ESPN2 broadcast that never mention the Washington Generals by name. It adds a lot of credibility to the broadcast by treating them like a team, and not like they came in knowing who would win. It also gives some credit where it's due.

After all, the programs for the Generals/Nationals Games against the Globetrotters may give them just a group shot, instead of the one page per player the Trotters get. But it also mentions the Generals players by name.

All in all it was a good game. I will say I think the current ones on ESPN have been better games though. That being said, I liked the way this one was covered more in that it was treated more like they were covering a sport and the broadcast team seemed to be having a blast.

I do think as a whole the New York National's era of the franchise was definitley a time when the games were in a rut. Not really the playing which was good on both sides, it just felt like they were phoning it in a lot of the time. And while I agree with the Globetrotters approach of "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" on a lot of their reams, I do like that the current team is also willing to try new things in addition to the classic bits.

But as a stand alone broadcast this was a solid and good piece of Washington Generals nostalgia. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Best of the Guest Generals: Zach Kerker

Zach Kerker from Springlfiel, Il has worn many hats as a broadcast sports journalist. The Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville graduate currently is the host of the radio show "Behind the Headlines" on Sports Radio 1450.

But last year on January 10th of 2010, when Zach was still a sports reporter for WCIS-TV, he was tapped to become the latest broadcaster to play as a Guest General at a game in Springfield.

I looked and was not able to find any account of the game itself. I would guess that like most of the Guest Generals, it was not a spectacular display of basketball prowess. I would also assume he took more than a little ribbing from Special K that night. Call it a hunch.

The reason he is getting mention here is that while most broadcasters mention their playing on the air before or after the game, sometimes both, WCIS got more creative. They took Zach's Guest General status and filmed a clever, and in my opinion funny, commercial to hype the game.

I don't know how well it was received in Springfield, but there are more than a few local personalities out here in Oklahoma City I would love to see beaned in the head with a basketball.

Zach showed a willingness to laugh at himself, and be the butt of a joke to help sell the Globetrotters. Proving that he has the heart of a General, and thus was a good pick to help represent them for the night.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Washington Generals Top Players: Mike McLaughlin

Photo courtesy of The Buzz. Used with permission. 
While the Washington Generals may not be a "winning team", some of their players have managed to use their experience to help coach others to victory. One of the most successful of them is Penn coach, and former Washington General, Mike McLaughlin.

Mike began his college basketball career in 1985 playing for Holy Family University. Mike was a member of the team during the programs first year in 1985 and went on to play with them for four seasons.

While playing for Holy Family, McLaughlin made their record books for the highest career 3-point shooting percentage by connecting on 57.7 percent of his three point shots. It is the school's record to this day.

Mike also holds the top two shooting percentages for a season, with 59.3 percent in 1989 and 58.5-percent in 1988. He is also the fifth all-time in scoring with 1,710 points and third in assist with 755.

Mikes reputation caught him the attention of the Washington Generals scouting staff, and in 1989 McLaughlin donned the Green and Gold to become the Globetrotters latest foil.

McLaughlin played with the Washington Generals for three years, becoming the teams captain for his final two. Ferrari himself has stated in interviews that Mike personified what the Washington Generals are.

In 1992, McLaughling left the Generals and returned to Holy Family, this time as an assistant coach. Two years later Mike became the teams head coach. It was a position which he held for 14 years.

During those 14 years McLaughlin amassed an impressive record of 407-61, a .869 winning percentage. That is currently the highest percentage at any level of NCAA basketball. He ended his stint with Holy Family by becoming the first coach in NCAA women's basketball history to reach 400 career wins.

Photo courtesy of The Buzz. Used with permission. 
In 2009, Mike left Holy Family to become the new coach of the women't basketball program at The University of Pennsylvania.

His time at Penn has been less impressive thus far, with a 16 game losing streak in his first season and a final record of 1-24 over all. In the 2010-11 season the team did show improvement with a record of 11-17 and a  sixth place league finish. Mike seems optimistic that despite a less than stellar start, great things are to come for the Lady Quakers in the future.

Only time will tell what the future holds for Penn. Regardless, no one can take away his impressive career at Holy Family. Which has helped brand Mike as one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history, with 419 wins and counting.

And while he has so far not duplicated the success with Penn that he had at Holy Family, he can still take pride in the fact that he is coaching for a school that houses some of the best and brightest in the country.

Not bad for a man with a professional career record of 0 wins and 550 losses.



RELATED LINKS...

I want to give a special thanks to The Buzz, for allowing me to use the pictures for this post, which originally came from Mike McLaughlin himself. You can see more of these by CLICKING HERE!


Also, check out the Daily Pennsylvanian for more on Mike McLaughlin. CLICK HERE!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Quick Draft Update

Real quickly I wanted to let everyone know that Andrew Goudelock was drafted by the Lakers in the second round of the NBA draft. So looks like the Washington Generals will have one less player to worry about next year.

One down... five to go!


CLICK HERE FOR FULL NEWS ON THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTER DRAFT!

Weekly Playing Schedule For The Week Of 6/26/11 - 7/02/11

The World Tour is back and I for one am excited.

There is only one game schedule for next week, the real action starts the week after that with games in China and Argentina scheduled for most of the month of July.

6/02/11 - At the Palacio Penarol in Montevideo, Uruguay at 9:00PM

If you are, or will be in Uruguay that Saturday night then I encourage you to go down and support the Generals.

I also want to wish safe traveling to all the Washington Generals and Harlem Globetrotters, be they the team in Argentina or China, as they travel so far from home. Once more helping bring the magic of basketball and laughter to people all over the world.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Randomness Week 6

Copyright © by Felipe Dalla Valle.
Used with permission.
For those of you on Facebook, the Nancy Lieberman Fan Page posted pictures from the 2011 basketball camp. CLICK HERE TO CHECK THEM OUT ON FACEBOOK!

Former Washington General Mike Atkinson posted a new blog entry a couple days ago about the Basketball Maui’s “Night of Shooting Stars” charity basketball game. CLICK HERE TO READ IT!

The World Tour begins once more, and I am glad because it is hard to find things to write about when the Generals are sitting at home. Although if anyone earned that break it's the Washington Generals.

Their tour starts on July 2nd although the real action kicks off the following week with the two squads touring in China and Argentina. Just like before I will one more be posting the upcoming tour schedule on the blog every Friday for the following week. The "Top Players" post will be moved back to Saturday with the "Best of the Guest Generals" once more on Sunday.

Red Klotz has always said that when the Globetrotters do the famous weave the players were told if the Trotters fall out of formation, take the ball from them. I will admit I was skeptical myself... until I saw footage from the 2009 game in Singapore that was just posted on YouTube. Watch as the Globetrotters loose the ball during a weave and the Generals take it and run it down the court making  a slam dunk. The Globetrotter fans did not like it, but for the Generals  you know that had to feel real good! CLICK HERE TO SEE IT!

I found an old article interviewing Red Klotz I haven't seen before. It doesn't offer anything new, but I always enjoy it when reporters give Klotz the respect he deserves. CLICK HERE!

There is one other bit of news featuring former General, Nancy Lieberman. Check out her video about her raising money for "Dream Courts".

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Generals Competition Drafts Six New Players

First of all, I apologies for being so late posting today. Some personal issues came up, and I didn't have time to finish the Randomness article and set it to auto post. 

However, due to some big news that has just come out in Washington Generals/Globetrotter land the "Randomness" post is moved to tomorrow. As I wanted to report this news to anyone who hasn't heard yet. 

Always keeping up with the Generals opposition I am reporting that the Harlem Globetrotters have drafted six new players to become the next generation of thorns in the Washington Generals side.

They include...

  • Jacob Tucker - From Illinois College, and winner of the Denny's Slam Dunk Contest. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON TUCKER!
  • Darnell Wilks - From  University of Cincinatti and Co-MVP of the 2010-11 season. Based on some of the insane Dunks Wilks has performed in his career, he is definitley a natural for the Trotters and assuming he doesn't burn out on their insane schedule could go very far. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON WILKS!
  • Andrew Goudelock - From College of Charleston and fifth leading scorer in the nation his senior year. He was also the winner of the College 3-point contest. Goudelock is high in the NBA Draft this Thursday however, so don't be surprised if he doesn't end up playing for the Trotters. If he doesn't get picked in the NBA Draft, he will likley prove invaluable next season with the 4-point shots. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON GOUDELOCK!
  • Jordan McCabe - A 12 year old player from Beaver Lake Middle School in Seattle, WA (yes, you read that right.). The Trotters are exercising a "Future Discovery Clause" for Jordan to play for them after he graduates college. An online video showing McCabe's dribbling and ball tricks went viral a little while back and caught the attention of the Trotters. No idea how official this is or if it is just a symbolic thing, but I have seen the video and even at 13 when I saw his tricks I thought, "Future Globetrotter". So he could do big things for them. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON McCABE!
  • Paul Sturgess - From Mountain State University, Sturgess stands at 7'8" and is the tallest basketball player ever in college history. Sturgess will be playing in front of NBA and D-League scouts this week, so he is not a lock as one would assume if drafted by the NBA he would take it. Although many critics have felt that despite his size he has not shown NBA quality skills. But the Globetrotters are always looking for a hook and a 7'8" Center would serve their "entertainment" form of basketball in ways the NBA wouldn't necessarily have need for. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON STURGESS!
  • Lionel Messi - May be the most outside the box pick of the draft (although McCabe is some stiff competition). Messi is a soccer star who currently plays for FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. All of the news I have been able to find about his being drafted, at least that go into any detail, are not written in English. So I have no idea how a soccer star like Messi found himself drafted by the Globetrotters. CLICK HERE FOR MESSI'S WIKIPEDIA ENTRY!


The Washington Generals are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief that Shaq has not accepted Dizzy's offer to play for the Globetrotters. Can't say I am shocked by that news. 

It is far from a given we will see all of these guys playing against the Generals next season, and obviously McCabe won't be donning the Red, White and Blue for a while. 

Goudelock is very likely to find himself picked up by at least the D-League in the upcoming draft and Sturgess may very well not prove to be ready for the NBA right now, but at his size it seems hard to believe he hasn't been considered for at least the D-League. Although personally I think the Trotters would be a much better home for him. (Note: Despite what I read earlier I checked again and Sturgess is not listed in the draft prospects.)

Messi also seems more like one of their "gimmick" picks and I have a feeling he won't be with the Globetrotters for the long haul. Although, since I can't find much info on how he ended up on the team it is possible that there is something I don't know. And my friends and family well tell you, I don't know a whole heck of a lot. 

Still, Tucker and Wilks alone prove the Generals have their work cut out for them, possibly for years to come considering McCabe's potential. But I have no doubt that the our boys in Green and Gold will rise to the occasion. Even if they don't pick up an elusive victory the Generals will no doubt help elevate any or all of the above players game to the next level. 


There has been no news on the Washington Generals draft. Although as noted before, Adam Powell did sign on for the upcoming tour in China. As always, stay tuned and as soon as I hear more I will report it here. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Washington Generals, Gracious Losers or Dirty Cheaters?

In 2007 Kurt Schneider, former executive vice president of marketing for WWE, became the CEO of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Copyright © by Penn State. Used under Creative Commons.
Kurt made some radical changes. Ones that, like them or not, have helped the Washington Generals/Harlem Globetrotters games resurgence.

His biggest move, and the one he may well be most remembered in the franchises legacy, was bring back the Washington Generals.

In 1995 the controversial decision was made by then Globetrotters owner Mannie Jackson to have Klotz "retire" the Washington Generals and re-brand them the New York Nationals. To long time fans of both teams, this marked the end of an era.

The Washington Generals had been the Globetrotters opponents since 1953 and become an icon in their own right.

Despite some fans crying foul, Jackson stood his ground and for a while it looked like the Green and Gold was gone forever. But in 2007, Schneider took over and righted what many saw as a huge wrong by asking Klotz and company to bring back the Washington Generals.

It seemed that once more all was right with the world. But it turned out that while the Generals were indeed back, something had changed about them.

As noted above, Schneider was once part of the WWE and despite his clear love for the "purity" of the Washington Generals feud with the Globetrotters, some of his previous employers influence was clearly there.

Klotz had long aspired the Generals legacy would be that of good sports. But since returning the Generals were now less than honorable at times.

It begins when the Generals first come out on the court and their coach, be it Reggie Harrison or Sam Worthen, immediately insult the home town of where they are playing. It's a classic ploy by wrestling bad guys to "generate heat" and it works just as well with the Globetrotters.

The other noticeable thing is that the Washington Generals have developed a habit of cheating. Since coming back the Generals have attempted tricks such as having their coach hypnotize the Globetrotters, utilizing a remote control ball, putting a clear plastic cover over the hoop, and most recently getting in bed with the referee to put the Trotters in the penalty box.

Copyright © by Dunur Blum. Used under creative commons.
All of these efforts ultimately proven futile. Despite these creative attempts to turn their luck around, Harrison and Worthen have thus far failed to capture the elusive win.

So is this new direction with the Washington Generals a good idea? Ultimately time will be the judge.

The reason that has been given for this change in the Washington Generals personality, is that it is used to create suspense in a sport where there is none.

In some ways that is a fair argument. While the Generals fan in me still holds out hope that the Washington Generals will shock the world at least once more within my lifetime, the reality is that fans in attendance know who is going to win. And that it won't be the team in Green and Gold.

There is also the argument that having the Generals not "play fair" helps keeps them in their unique position as the unlovable underdogs. Them losing to the Trotters is one thing, but them losing after they cheated means they got what they deserved, rather then lost a fair fight.

Arguably, it might prove to be a good idea. While it is unclear how much that particular decision has affected it, the truth is that the Washington Generals games against the Globetrotters are more popular and successful than they ever were when the New York Nationals took on the boys from Harlem.

Whether this "updated" take on the Washington Generals will stick is something only time will reveal. But one thing that is clear, Schneider clearly recognizes the importance of the Washington Generals. That is that the Washington Generals are the iconic foils to the Harlem Globetrotters.

Whether they are playing fair, or borrowing a page from Wile E. Coyote's book of tricks, the fact that the man in charge realizes the importance of the Washington Generals gives this fan great hope for the teams future.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Top 5 Reasons The Washington Generals Might Not Have A Mascot

Original photo Copyright ©  by Aluzano.
Used under creative commons
Many people have wondered over the years why the Washington Generals don't have a mascot.

It's a logical question seeing as how the Harlem Globetrotters have a whole army of mascots. There is Globie, Globie Jr., Big G, Little G, Super G and Yo! What Up G? (It's possible I made that last one up).

Yet the Generals have yet to have a single mascot. While only the Washington Generals could tell you the true reason for this, I thought I would speculate on some reasons out favorite team has yet to have a mascot.

5.) What would it be? A goat would eat the basketball's and a midget basketball player would be politically incorrect.
 
4.) Big G would give it a wedgie.
 
3.) Some of the Washington Generals are allergic to foam.
 
2.) Red Klotz had a traumatic experience with the San Diego Chicken... he doesn't like to talk about it.
 
And the #1 reason the Washington Generals may not have a mascot?

1.) LITTLE G WILL EAT IT!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Newest Referee For The Washington Generals

I was searching around and found this interview with the newest referee for the Washington Generals games, Kevin Baker.

Baker is a 15 year coach of high school basketball in Minnesota who recently got the call to referee the Washington Generals games against the Globetrotters.

Kevin hit the road touring during the last week of their last run in the US, and is scheduled to start full time refereeing the games in October.

We at this blog wish Kevin Baker good luck, and here is hoping the Washington Generals coaching staff can form another one of the "professional" bonds they are so well known for having with the officials this current tour.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Best of the Guest Generals: Flea

Copyright © by Leon Wilson. Used under creative commons.

Most of the time the Guest Generals are members of the local media. Usually radio or television but occasionally members of the seemingly dying newspaper medium don the number "00". 

That is not surprising, as the Guest General conecpt is done as a way for the media to help promote the Globetrotters games. Plus local celebrities are a good, cheap way to get the local fans attentions. 

However, every once in a while, they break from the mold and get someone outside of the usual realm of TV, Radio, or Newspaper reporters. They did it with another "Best of the Guest Generals" entry I covered with the Butler Bulldogs, a Belgian singing star once donned the green and gold, and they have also had Guest Generals who play for a charity. 

But on February 14th at the Staples Center, the Washington Generals signed arguably their most famous Guest General ever. Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

For those of you not familiar with them, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a rock band first formed in 1983. In their over 20 years of existence they have recorded several hit songs including, but certainly not limited to, "Under the Bridge", "Give it Away", and "Scar Tissue". Just to name a few. 

The band has gone through several changes in members over the years, but Flea is one of the members who has been with the group since the beginning. 

As far as his ball handling skills during the game that night... lets just say Flea is a very good bass player. 

Flea did not light up the court with his playing ability that night, but he looked like he was having a good time, despite the fact Big Easy seemed harder than usual on him. Likely due to the fact Flea was famous enough to have a thicker skin. 

Flea may not have a future as a basketball player, but he definitley showed he is willing to laugh at himself and allow the Globetrotters to have some fun with him in the interest of entertaining fans. If that isn't a man with the heart of a Washington General I don't know what is.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Washington Generals Top Players: Shawn Faust

Copyright © by Mike/Mrghx4. All rights
reserved. Used with permission.
While most Washington Generals are only with the team 1-3 seasons, Shawn Faust has been with the Generals for 8 years.

His "Shaggy like" appearance, a running gag with the Harlem Globetrotters, combined with his long stint on the team made him one of the rare Washington Generals to become recognisable by Globetrotter fans. Even if they didn't know who he was by name.

But who is Shawn Faust?

An all conference player for the University of West Florida, after Shawn's graduation in 2003 he was invited to a pro combine in Altamonte Springs. It changed his life forever.

He was recruitted by the then New York Nationals (the team name the Washington Generals were going by at the time). Shawn started his fiurst tour with the Nationals in 2003 and in that first season alone traveled to over 30 countries.

As someone who wanted to see the world Shawn took to the lifestyle and stayed with the team for 6 seasons and a reported 77 countries. He has since become a physical education teacher at Discovery Academy of Lake Alfred helping influence young people on a whole new level from his days as the Trotters dance partner.

Although no longer with the Generals full time, Shawn still plays with them on a part time basis. He was even part of the 2010 game in Orlando, marking the grand opening of the Wide World Of Sports park and the Washington Generals and Harlem Globetrotters return to television.

Shawn has told interviewers that his most memorable experience was playing for the troops in Iraq, where he even stayed in one of Saddam's old palaces.

Shawn was also part of some more notable moments in recent Generals history on several occasions. He played in the game where owner Red Klot'z jersey was retired. He was part of the New York Nationals team that played with Dennis Rodman, under the name "Dennis Rodman's Bad Boy All Stars". And he was also with the team when they ended their 12 year run as the New York Nationals and once more became the Washington Generals.

Shawn has said he still holds out hope that he can be part of the Washington Generals next big win. But even if that day never comes, to Shawn's students and to the many Washington Generals and Harlem Globetrotter's he has toured with, Shawn is most definitley seen as a winner.


A SHAWN FAUST INTERVIEW FROM CITYPAGES!

LEDGER ARTICLE ON SHAWN FAUST!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Ode to the Keep Away Dribble

Copyright © by Lee Harkness. All rights
reserved. Used under creative commons.
Not long ago I did an entry paying ode to the weave, so I thought for today's post I would pay tribute to another routine the Washington Generals and Globetrotters do together, the dribble keep away.

Originally started by Trotter Marques Haynes; this routine is usually done once per game. It consist of the Globetrotters dribbling the ball up the court, and as the Washington Generals try to catch it the Trotters weave and slide all across the floor, avoiding the ball being caught as the Generals chase after them. It will lead to several funny moments born from the Trotters seemingly effortless ability to make the Generals look silly in their attempts to steal the ball.

Arguably, the Globetrotters do have the harder part of this trick. Dribbling the ball may be second nature to professional basketball players. But it takes time and practice to continuously dribble it as you run and slide in every direction, often inches from the hardwood. However, the reason the trick is such a hit is because of the comedy gold of the Generals trying to catch the ball.

I have often said that at their best moments the Washington Generals and Globetrotters are like a finely tuned dance team. I think that is on full display here, as the Washington Generals have to appear to be trying to take the ball, without actually taking it. It is the goofy shenanigans that come from the Trotters keeping the ball away from the Generals that makes the trick so successful.

I can only imagine how long both teams must have to practice to pull this trick off so easily. Admittedly, some Generals do a better job than others of making this look believable. Many do simply look like they are hovering around near them, but some of the better Generals are truly amazing at selling their "fumbling" attempts to catch the ball.

This season a new twist was put on this classic.

Near the end of the first half the Globetrotters will inevitably pull a stunt that will lead to three of their players being put in the penalty box. This leaves the Washington Generals playing with a 5 on 2 advantage. Usually, the Washington Generals will have the ball at this point and take their shot. Which they usually make given that it's pretty hard for two players to cover five.

But once the Globetrotters get the ball back the magic starts as the two Trotters will begin the dribbling trick, made all the more impressive and comical given that at this point the two Globetrotters will dribble and pass the ball back and forth as the Generals shift back and forth between them, practically tripping over each other as they try, and fail, to steal the ball. As the period comes to a close the fans will count down and the Globetrotters will take the ball to the 4-point circle and take a 4-point shot to close the second quarter.

Obviously the trick is more impressive when the Globetrotters make their final 4-point shot.  As even with the Generals making no real effort to stop it the Globetrotters do still occasionally miss the last shot. No one can score a basket 100% of the time, I don't care how good they are.

But even when they do miss, the trick is still entertaining and an amazing show of athleticism and comedy.

Below is a video featuring the trick being performed at a the Generals game in Manchester last April. It featured the previously mentioned 2 on 5 trick. I will admit a part of me likes it because it begins with the Wasington Generals making a 4-point shot and ends with the Globetrotters missing their basket. But it really is the best video I have seen of the current version of their keep away dribble, missed shot or not.

The truth is that the beauty of the bit is in the dribbling and not in whether or not the final shot is successful.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Randomness Week 5

Copyright © by CameliaTWU. All Rights
Reserved. Used under Creative Commons.
Ebay has an auction going on, scheduled to end tomorrow, for a vintage 1970 Harlem Globetrotters book. Those of you on Ebay can check it out by CLICKING HERE!

ESPN3D will apparently be re-airing the Generals game from Orlando on June 15. This is the same game from Orlando ESPN2 has been playing, but in 3D. This game was actually used to test out filming basketball in 3D in preperation for broadcasting NBA games. Anyone with ESPN3D who hasn't seen it might want to consider checking it out.

All Riled Up posted a story about the 5 worst professional teams and as I am sure you can guess where I am going. The Washington Generals made #1. Although they did acknowledge that the Generals agenda was different than most teams. They also got their facts wrong as they mentioned them picking up a win in 1962, but described the 1971 game. More sports reporters need to read my blog and this wouldn't happen ;). To read the full article CLICK HERE!

I fond an article talking about how last season The Washington Generals/Globetrotter games drew the highest crowds ever. CLICK HERE!

Someone likes Lebron about as much as I like Barkley (although unlike this poster about Lebron I don't take the fact Barkley was a great player away from him). Check out this bulletin board post "Are The Generals Next?"

Finally, the Harlem Globetrotters YouTube channel was nominated for the June edition of YouTube's "On the Rise" CLICK HERE TO VOTE!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do The Washington Generals Play to Win?

Copyright © by Dinur Bloom. All Rights Reserved.
Used under creative commons.
For decades now there has been a lot of questioning whether or not the Washington Generals play to win. Understandably, with only six wins in 13,000+ games fans are skeptical.

While I have no affiliation with the Washington Generals, I thought as a long time fan and someone who has been watching them play for almost as long as he can remember, I would give my take. I think the fact I have become VERY well read on Generals/Globetrotters history might also make my analyses worth something. Although it is possible I just have delusions of grandeur. 

Officially, the Washington Generals have always maintained that they "play to win" and both them and the Globetrotters organisation have been claiming the games are "competitive" pretty much since the Washington Generals first started playing the Globetrotters 1953.

If you look simply at their college stats the Globetrotters would definitley be the better team on paper. Still, most would agree no matter how much more skilled one team may or may not be, if you play 13,000 games against the same two teams full of successfull college players, like both the Generals and Trotters are, both teams are going to win some and lose some. 

Yes if one team has "better players" then it isn't hard to believe that the win/loss record might end up lop sided, but play that many teams together and the familiarity they would develop with each other alone should keep one team from flat out winning every game. 

So does this prove the Washington Generals are throwing the games? I guess that might depend on what someone considers "throwing a game". But do I think that the Washington Generals intentionally miss baskets? or are following a script that dictates they loose? No.

After watching a ton of games in my lifetime, not to mention all the YouTube videos I have absorbed since starting this blog and looking for info on the Generals, I absolutely do not believe the Generals are missing baskets, or anything else that would be considered "taking a dive".

"But Dan..." you ask, "how can you think the Generals aren't throwing the games when you just admitted how unlikely it is for one team to lose so much?". A good question, hypothetical pessimist. 

Here is the thing. While I love the Washington Generals, I and everyone else will agree the fans come to see one team. The fans come to be entertained, to laugh, and to watch a bunch of great basketball players perform trick shots and fancy dunks. And in case anyone isn't clear, the team they want to see do that does not wear green and gold. 

The first priortiy of a Globetrotter game is not really to give us "hard hitting" basketball. It is to see the Globetrotters shine and the Washington Generals first job is to help make that happen. They are not there to outshine the Globetrotters, ever. 

In the interest of doing that there are a lot of restrictions and rules that the Washington Generals are pretty much required to play by, to help achieve that goal. 
  • Toning down the defense - This is probably the biggest one of all, and one even casual basketball fans easily pick up on early in the games. For the most part when the Globetrotters have the ball the Generals defense is more for show than anything else. They don't really try to steal the ball and let the Globetrotters go wherever they want and take their shots. When the Trotters have the ball, their shots are pretty much theirs to miss.
  • The Globetrotters don't tone down their defense - The above mention of the Generals toning down their defense definitley goes one way. When the Washington Generals have the ball they are allowed to take their shots, and in fact usually make them. However, unlike when the Generals are on defense the Globetrotters most definitley make every effort to block the Generals shots. If the Generals can make every shot down the court they are allowed to do so, but unlike the Trotters they have to earn those baskets. 
  • Playing the foil in the comedy bits - One of the biggest jobs of the Generals is to be the Globetrotters foil during the various comedy bits. While these mostly happen on the Globetrotters side of the court, they also pretty much guarantee the Globetrotters a free shot. I would say based on my assessment these comedy bits probably give the Globetrotters a free 30-40 points per game, if not more right there. Clearly, playing an opponent who has that many points given to them is a big factor in who will win. The Globetrotters also have the option of pulling these bits out whenever the Generals look like they might begin to get a big lead, thus keeping them from gaining any real momentum. 
  • The Guest Generals - While they don't use these every game, they definitley are a factor when they are used. For around the 2 minutes that the Guest Generals play, the game pretty much becomes all about the Globetrotters showman goofing around with the Guest General. Pretty much every other player on both teams does little more then pass the ball to their teams player (be it the Globetrotter showman or the Guest General) to keep the gag rolling. Since these guest players are almost never actual basketball players it means for 2 minutes the Generals offence AND defense is built around someone that often doesn't play basketball and may not even have athletic ability. They are very entertaining portions of the game, but not necessarily good winning strategy. 
  • The Washington Generals have a smaller team - While the Globetrotters play with a full sized team or close to it every game, the Washington Generals do not. The number varies depending on which team it is, and injuries and the like. But the Generals usually play a game with around 7-8 players. This is done beacause the Generals have less money to recruit players. Keeping the team as small as they can while still allowing enough players to rotate and give everyone a chance to rest, allows The Generals more money to pay their players a competitive salary. That is good for what the Generals are there for, but once again, playing a game with that few players against a full team is another hurdle that gets in their way of winning. 
So based on the above I don't really think they "throw the game". According to the official story if the Washington Generals can overcome the obstacles listed above and still win, they are allowed too.

The thing is, with all of those elements in play, the deck is really stacked against them to the point there is no way they really can win. Sure if all the cards fall in the right place in the right order it COULD happen, and in fact has before as my entry on their 1971 win proves. And it isn't impossible it could happen again someday. However, the fact the 40th anniversary of their last win recently happened pretty much proves how unlikely it actually is..

I do want to state that I do not find any of this a bad thing, or take anything away from either teams because of it.

The system exist for a reason, people come to see the Globetrotters play and win. By doing it the way they do it, it allows the Generals to show their stuff for potential future teams for part of the game and play a more "real" game of basketball then if they were flat out following a script of intentionally missing baskets. Which would definitley kill the illusion.

It also keeps the Globetrotters on their toes, since if they grow too stagnant or stop paying attention the Generals could theoretically upset them. That keeps the Globetrotters game elevated and avoids then sleepwalking through a game, which the fans would notice and not react favorably to.

And the truth is that at the end of the day, the fact the way they do it may not qualify as "fair" to the Generals isn't really the important thing. The Generals may "play to win" but their job is to be the Trotters foil as a means to entertain the fans. Not to rack up an impressive win/loss record.

As Meadowlark Lemon once said, "At a Globetrotter game folks never remember the final score. People do remember the laughter."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Washington Generals In Granada

Hey gang, quick post today but check out some great footage from the Washington Generals game in Granada. Some nice shots from the Generals can be seen here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Washington Generals on ABC's Wide World Of Sports

I thought I would take a second to reminisce about the program where many people were first introduced to the Washington Generals and the Globetrotters. "ABC's Wide World Of Sports"

For those of you not familiar with it, ABC's Wide World of Sports was a sports anthology series that ran on ABC. It began in 1961 and ran all the way until 1998.

Wide World Of Sports would feature coverage of sporting events from around the world. While all the usual popular sports were featued, Football, Baseball, Boxing and so forth, it also would feature a lot of sports and competitions not normally seen on television such as curling, rattlesnake hunting, badmitton, firefighter competitions... the list really does go on and on. I think I could spend all day mentioning the various events covered in their over 40 years on television.

But one of the things it is most remembered for is being the original home to the Harlem Globetrotters and Washington Generals long standing feud.

Starting in 1973 the Wide World of Sports began airing games on January taped somewhere in the world for most years until 1991. Most people know the Washington Generals games against the Globetrotters often use some of the same tricks, so if you were to watch them back to back these days they would look kind of repetitive at times. But in an age before VCR's when watching one of these games was truly a special occasion, once a year was just enough time to keep their signature tricks from ever getting old.

I still remember watching The Washington Generals take on the globetrotters on the Saturdays of my youth. It is some of my favorite memories of the Generals.

Wide World of Sports was cancelled in 1998, but not before becoming part of television Americana and helping launch the Generals and Globetrotters to that same level.

ESPN2 looks prime to once more continue the annual Generals vs Globetrotter games, from appropriately the Wide World of Sports complex. Here is hoping they can bring the same magic and nostalgia to a new generation.

Below are a list of the air dates for the Washington Generals/Harlem Globetrotters games.

  • January 13, 1973 - The Washington Generals and Harlem Globetrotters debut on Wide World of Sports
  • January 6, 1974 - The Generals take on the Globetrotters in London
  • January 26, 1976 - The Washington Generals take on the Harlem Globetrotters in the Attica Correctional Facility
  • January 14, 1979- The Generals take on the Globetrotters in the fifth highest rated episode in the shows history
  • January 17, 1981 - An episode titles "The Harlem Globetrotters Go Hollywood" has the Generals take on the Trotters in Hollywood, CA
  • January 16, 1982 - The Generals take on the Globetrotters at Walt Disney World
  • January 22, 1983 - The Generals face off against the Globetrotters in New York, NY
  • January 7, 1984 - The Generals and the Globetrotters play in Hong Kong 
  • February 16, 1985 - The teams face off in New Orleans, LA
  • January 11, 1986 - The Generals and the Globetrotters square off in Kansas City, KS
  • January 10, 1987 - The Washington Generals face the Harlem Globetrotters in one of their few live televised games once more from Kansas City, KS
  • January 2, 1988 - The teams face off in West Beriln
  • January 28, 1989 - The Generals and the Globetrotters go down under in Sydney, Australia
  • January 13, 1990 - The Washington Generals face the Harlem Globetrotters in Paradise Island in the Bahamas. 
  • February 2, 1991 - The Generals face the Globetrotters for the last time on Wide World of Sports at Disney MGM Studios
  • May 22, 1993 - The Harlem Globetrotters make an appearance in a retrospective episode. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Best Of The Guest Generals: Josh Lewis

On January 16, 2010 the Washington Generals rolled into Charleston, WV to take on the Globetrotters.

When the call came for a guest General sports anchor Josh Lewis with WCHS-TV8 and WVAH Fox 11 in Charleston, WV answered the call.

Josh did his best to help the Generals add a rare addition to the "W" column, but I think we all can guess it didn't happen.

I made Josh to this weeks "Best of the Guest Generals" for two reasons. Neither of which were because he proved to be an especially good player for them. But if you will remember on my initial Guest Generals post, I said that for a Guest General to make it on this blog, they don't necessarily need to have played one of the best games. They can only score so many points in the limited shots the Globetrotters allow them anyway.

To make it as one of this blogs best of the Guest Generals they simply have to stand out among the revolving door of Guest Generals, and Josh Lewis has done this.

One is his video which is seen below. Given that Guest Generals are usually members of the local media a vast number of them have a video out there of them playing. But while most of them are just raw footage shot from the stands, often times with bad sound and picture, I think Josh has the best Guest General video I have seen. And I have seen a LOT.

It is well edited, well shot, has cool music, some nice montages of great Trotter dunks, and even a nice shot of the Generals showing their skills on the court.

The other one is his crash into the bench when trying to keep the ball from going out of bounds. It is definitley one of the more memorable moments of any guest general. Although credit where credit is due, he kept the ball in bounds, even if he did almost send himself to the hospital in the process. The incident in question is in the video below.

Unfortunitley despite his basket scored, his determination, and his best efforts to keep the ball on the court, the Generals could not pull off a win that night. But after watching the video no one can say it wasn't because of Lewis didn't give his best effort.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Washington Generals Top Players: Ron Sobie

Ron Sobie's 1957 Basketball Card. 
Ron Sobie had the misfortune of having an NBA career that was cut too short due to an untimely injury. But Sobie also helped make basketball history and became a foil to the Globetrotters before he even played his first NBA game, much less joined the Washington Generals.

Born on September 21st of 1934, Ron Sobieszcyzk (nicknamed "Sobie") first got his taste of organised basketball in high school when he played for St. Mel High in Chicago. He eventually transferred to, and graduated from, St. Bonaventure Academy in Wisconsin.

After graduation Sobie played at DePaul University for legendary coach Ray Meyer from 1953-1956.  While attending DePaul, Sobie made history for basketball and to some extent the civil rights movement when he toured with the Globetrotters as part of the College All-Stars Team coached by Meyer, where he was named MVP of the 1956 season.

It is worth noting that while the Globetrotters won most of the games during this tour, Sobie and the All-Stars did also take home some wins. Making Sobie one of the relativity small number of basketball players who can claim taking part in defeating the Globetrotters, and one of the very few past Generals who knew that taste of victory, all be it not as a Washington General.

During his college career Sobie scored an impressive 1,222 points, making him an easy pick for the NBA. Indeed, Ron was selected in the first round of the 1956 NBA Draft. Sobie played for the New York Knicks from 1956-1959 before being transferred to the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1959-60 season.

During his time in the NBA, Sobie played in 192 games and scored 1,691 points. He also finished his career in the NBA's top ten percent in free throw percentages.

No telling what more he could have accomplished in the NBA, but unfortunately his NBA career was cut short by a knee injury during the 1959-60 season. While Sobie's injury did heal enough for him to eventually continue playing basketball, he was never able to return to NBA standards after that time.

In 1960 Sobie signed with the Washington Generals, returning to the court to once more face his old rivals from his days touring with the College All-Stars. It goes without saying that Sobie did not have as much success against the Trotters as he did during his All-Star days, but I can imagine that he elevated the level of play while on the Generals, and helped in elevating the Trotters to play their best game possible.

After leaving the Generals at the end of the tour, Sobie finished out his basketball career playing in the ABL for the Chicago Majors.

Sobie was inducted into the DePaul Athletic Hall of Fame in 1976 as part of the inaugural class, and in 2007 was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.

Sobie later opened up a restaurant called "Sobie's Bar and Grill" in Cicero, IL.

In October 23rd of 2009 Sobie passed away at age 75 due to a degenerative brain desease.

Sobie's basketball career may not have lasted as long as he would have liked, especially during his time in the NBA, but his flame burned bright while he was there. He also and made a mark with the Globetrotter organisation both before and during his time with the Generals.

Not bad for a kid for Chicago.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A RON SOBIE EUELOGY!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Red Klotz Responds To Barkley's Running Of His Mouth.

Copyright © by Studio08Denver.
All Rights Reserved. Used
Under Creative Commons
As some of you may remember last Wednesday on ESPN Radio Charles Barkley, ever the diplomatic speaker, made a comment about how, "If the Miami Heat were playing the Washington Generals, I would pick the Washington Generals."

I didn't mention it then because if I quoted everyone who made a crack comparing the team they want to pick on as being as bad/worse than the Generals I would get carpal tunnel syndrome. It's not that the comments offend me or anything, despite my great respect for the team and players their legacy is being a losing team and they wear it with pride. It is just that I have been hearing that crack since before I hit puberty, and I am sure it was an old joke back then. That Barkley, so original.

However, Red Klotz did respond to Barkley's comment. You can read about it HERE! 


It seems even Red Klotz doesn't think Barkley should be on the Generals, having good things to say about the Heat. Proving once more he is ever the class act, unlike some people.

On the up side I think 50 million people quoted Barkley, so kudos to him for getting the Generals so much press.

The Real Reason There Are So Few Washington Generals Fans

Copyright © by Dinur Blum. All rights reserved.
Used under Creative Commons
For a team that has been around since 1953 the Washington Generals have very few fans. It would seem surprising on paper, after all people love the underdog don't they?

Well in 2009 YouTube user Jeanette captured the shocking truth why the Washington Generals have so few fans.

It can be viewed below, but be warned that what you are about to see may shock you!


Be weary fellow Generals fans... be weary!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Randomness Week 5

Copyright © by Michael and Kyla Jackson. All rights reserved.
Used with permission.
I found an excellent article on Washington General David Burch from Last January. While local media writing an article about their local boy being in the Generals, especially during their rookie year, is pretty much par for the course this one was especially good. CLICK HERE!

A blog called Dad of Divas' Reviews has reviewed former General Sean McCartney's book "Breaking the Beale Code". READ THE REVIEW HERE! and ORDER THE BOOK FROM AMAZON.COM HERE!

I can no longer find the article to link to, they apparently took it down. (if someone knows where it is please tell me) but FARK.COM had a hilarious headline listed, "Former Globetrotters sue team, Washington Generals hoping for jury duty".

A few weeks ago I did a post on Bill Spivey. I came across a list of his career highlights courtesy of APBR which details quite a bit of his history with many of the Harlem Globetrotters regular opponents, including the Generals. CLICK HERE TO READ THEM!

For anyone who didn't notice the tabs above now have a "Top Players" tab, which indexes my "Washington Generals Top Players" post. I will still post them on the main page with the blog entries, but thought I would give new viewers and people interested an easier way to find my old entries.

On a final, slightly unrelated note, Dizzy Grant of the Globetrotters (and formerly of the New York Nationals) posted a video on YouTube asking Shaq to come play for the Harlem Globetrotters. I doubt it would ever happen, that is a hell of a traveling schedule for him to take on right off the NBA for what I can only assume would be a lot less money. Never mind the fact he is not a young guy anymore. But I will say that I can't think of anyone in the NBA right now, or in his case just coming off the NBA, who would be a better fit for the Trotters than Shaquille O'Neal. Although for the Washington Generals sake they sure better hope he doesn't.

I embedded the video below.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Washington Generals Infamous 1971 Win

I avoided posting about this at first since it has been covered before, but many have asked about the Washington Generals win in 1971. It should be noted that while many people think that this is the only time the Washington Generals beat the Globetrotters, that is actually not true.

THE OTHER WINS.

The numbers of previous wins from the Washington Generals have varied due mostly to the fact few box scores can still be found, and in many cases never existed. Not to mention that no real official records are kept between the games.

The number has never been higher than six (including the 1971 win) but the only win prior to 1971 that has ever been confirmed happened on November 2nd 1957 in St. Joseph, Mich.

I want to note real quickly that the Globetrotters website (which only recently even acknowledged this game happened) credits this game as happening in "1961". But as a reader and researcher J. Michael Kenyon brought to my attention, that date is actually not correct.

As was reported in the Benton Harbor MI News-Palladium reported on November 4th 1957 (not 1961) it was during the game on November 2nd that near the end of the game that the scoreboard malfunctioned. It incorrectly showed the Harlem Globetrotters with a 61-57 lead in the final 2 minutes. The scorekeeper tried to inform the Trotters of the mistake, but apparently couldn't get to them in time.

Thinking they were protecting a lead, the Globetrotters began clowning around to stall the outcome. The buzzer went off and while mostin attendence, including the Trotters, were not aware the Generals had actually beaten the Globetrotters 66-63.

Red Klotz noticed this error when looking over his own score log and has said in interviews that Saperstein did admit Red was right. Although clearly no one saw any reason to protest this and the teams went on their tour. Although Klotz claimed that as the Generals first win against the Trotters for the next 14 years.

But it was in 1971 in Martin, Tennessee that the Washington Generals, under one of their many personas scored their most infamous win to date, and for a long time the only one officially acknowledged by the Harlem Globetrotters.


Martin, Tennessee - 1971
 
University of Tennessee-Martin was the sight of the 1971 upset.
Photo Copyright © by Patrick Potts. Used under Creative Commons.
On January 25th the Washington Generals traveled to Martin, Tennessee to once more play the Globetrotters.


I can only imagine that after so many games the Generals saw nothing special about that night going in.

For 200 or more times a year the Washington Generals play the Globetrotters, and as the above would state the outcome is almost always the same. The Generals play hard, make sure to help the Trotters look good, the weave is done several times, someone loses their pants, the Trotters win and the fans go home with big smiles on their faces.

I'm sure to the Generals in 1971 that at times it seemed like the only thing that ever really changed was the arena and the uniforms they wore. As I noted in an earlier article, during that period the Washington Generals were in the unique position of acting as five different teams.


In reality it was really only one team with the same players, but the Generals would rotate their uniforms and go by one of five different names to give the illusion of the Globetrotters playing more teams. Although the Washington Generals wer among the five teams, on this night in Tennessee it was the New Jersey Reds turn to face off against the Harlem Globetrotters.

As the Reds came out to the court that night in the University of Tennessee-Martin arena, I have no doubt that to them it seemed like another night in another arena against their constant foe. Little did they know that the New Jersey Reds were about to play in a game that would not only make history, but go on to become almost a mythical game in Globetrotter lore.


The Game

As the game progressed it became clear to the spectators that something was different about this game. For some reason the Globetrotters, always known for their gags were doing much less than usual. Yes buckets of confetti were being thrown and the usual comedy bits were there. But as anyone who goes to a game will tell you, a Globetrotters game is full of little gags all around. For some reason, there weren't as many of them that night in Tennessee.

While elements of a Globetrotter/Washington General (or whatever they are going by that night) game are definitley planned they happen predominantly during the times the Washington Generals are on defense. When the Washington Generals have the ball, and some parts of the time the Trotters have it, the Generals are allowed to play "real" basketball.

When the Trotters have the ball the rules mostly change. The Generals are expected, some would say required, to let the Trotters pretty much go where they want and set up their famous trick shots. They also have to "play along" when the Globetrotters go into one of their many comedy routines, or set up for the infamous weave.

Around 20% to 30% of a Generals/Globetrotter game is "real basketball". However it's that other 70% that has almost always guaranteed the Trotters the victory. The system is a well proven one, it gives the Generals both a chance to show at times how good they are to potential future teams, as well as keeps the Trotters from getting stagnant as they might if the Generals just flat out threw the games. At the same time the formula also stacks the deck enough against the Generals that winning is virtually impossible. Thus, the fans get what they want at the end of the night, the Harlem Globetrotters defeating their opponent.

But that night the formula was off. That night the Trotters toned down the jokes, leaving the game more often a case of the Reds and the Harlem Globetrotters playing a more traditional basketball game.

The reason for that has never been confirmed. There are rumors of some kind of dispute prior to the game,  although they've never been truly confirmed. Maybe there was a fight that lit a fire under the Generals while giving the Trotters the feeling they had something to prove, maybe all that time on the road got to the Trotters that night, maybe deep down a part of them just wanted to change up the routine that had become almost second nature by that point.

Whatever the reason, the Reds happened to be on fire that night, and as the game progressed they slowly started to run up the score. Had the Globetrotters noticed they easily could have gone into their comic routines, any one of them virtually guaranteeing them points while slowing the Reds down.

Apparently the Globetrotters didn't realize that they were beginning to lag behind. Not surprising, as the score is almost a formality in most games between these two teams, especially as the night goes on. According to reports it wasn't until there were only two minutes into the game that the Globetrotters seemed to realize they were suddenly down by 12 points.

With the reality that they were in real danger of actually losing finally upon them the Globetrotters rallied in the final two minutes of the game, the New Jersey Reds as always going along with the ride and playing their usual "mostly for show" defense. As the Trotters began playing harder they managed to bridge the gap and with 10 seconds left in the game the Trotters manged to gain a 99-98 lead when the Reds called a time out.

Owner and player Red Klotz, by this time at 50 years old but still possessing his signature two hand shot, told his team that he wanted them to hand him the ball for the final shot. There have been differing reports on why Red made this decision.

The Generals have also been adamant that they are always told to take their shots and never miss on purpose. But in the case where it might have been the game winning shot it has been said that Red's real motive was that he didn't want to put one of the players in the position of deciding whether to make a game winning shot and worry about getting "in trouble", or miss on purpose which they are told never to do. So perhaps Red's real motive was to not put his players in the position of having to make that tough call.

When the game continued Klotz was passed the ball and made his shot, and just like that the Red were once more in the lead 100-99.

One thing I have always wondered, as have others, is did Red actually mean to make the shot? As I stated Red has reportedly told his players to never miss a shot on purpose. So I can't help but wonder if Red asked for the ball because he was their best shooter, even at his age? Or did he ask for the ball so he could miss the shot, and by dumb luck made it anyway?

At the end of the day, probably only Red and Got know for certainty the answer to that question. But Klotz has maintained to this day that he made that shot with the intent of scoring and was trying to win the game like he always does.

The timekeeper, realizing what was about to happen, did stop the clock with three seconds left. This gave the Trotters time for one last shot. While normally the clock would not have stopped it was not uncommon for the time keepers to be loose with the rules when it benefited the game, and in this case the fate of the Globetrotters winning streak against the Generals was at stake.

With the Trotters now in control of the ball it was passed to Meadowlark Lemon, legendary showman of the Globetrotters to make one final shot. Lemon took the ball down the court, met with no real resistance as the Reds did their job and left him open to make the final shot.

Likely at this point the Reds figured that it was once more business as usual when they let Lemon make his final shot, which would give the Globetrotters the win by one point.

Regardless, Meadowlark delivered the same hook shot he had made a thousand times before... and missed.

The timekeeper tried to stop the clock once more and give the Trotters a chance to score on the rebound. Unfortunately for the Trotters, this time he wasn't fast enough and the final buzzer sounded. Just like that, in front of a shocked crowd, the Reds had won the game.

Kids cried and fans booed. Klotz has in many interviews since likened that night to being like they "killed Santa Claus". Although, some spectators and players did later recall among the chorus of boos, some fans did cheer, likely realizing they had seen history being made.

Obviously, comparing it to some of the more famous upsets in sports history has to be taken in the proper context. Despite the many jokes made over the years about the Washington Generals bad luck against the Trotters, no one would dispute that the entertainment aspect of their games is clearly the reason for such a lop sided record, regardless of whether it's "fixed" or not.

Still, no one can argue that at least mathematically, there has never been a bigger upset. There likeley never will be another one. At least not unless the Generals win again.

The Aftermath

After the game the Reds had what I can only imagine was the mother of all victory celebrations. Klotz was doused with orange soda. The game was played in a dry state at the time, and it goes without saying that the Generals did not travel with champagne. 

Some of the other details of what went on in that locker room have somewhat become part of basketball myth. Many accounts, and even an interview with a Roy Kieval, a former General who played in that game, have mentioned Abe Saperstein coming into the locker room screaming and furious at the Red's for having the nerve to win the game. 

It should be noted however, that Saperstein passed away five years prior to the game. So unless Abe was so shocked at the loss he came back from the dead, one has to assume that didn't happen. Although, Given how much Saperstein hated losing you can almost believe he actually would haunt the Reds out of revenge. 

Lemon, although reportedly furious, did come back to the locker room and congratulate the team on their victory. One would hope that part is true. Given what the Globetrotters stand for, I'd like to believe that Lemon did in fact have the class to show the kind of sportsmanship Klotz and his team had always shown him. 

Many reasons for the Globetrotters loss, or some would argue excuses, have come out since then. Historians and players are quick to cite that Curly Neal, the captain and arguably best ball player the Trotters had at the time, did not play in the game that night. The timekeeper, who the Trotters claimed didn't stop the clock for their skits early on, has also shouldered some of the blame. 

Personally, given what the Generals have going against them every game, I'd argue that there is no way they could have won unless the Trotters simply slacked off.

That sentiment was apparently shared by Harlem's then owner George Gillett. Reportedly, Gillett met the Trotter in Arkansas for their next game to personally tear them a new one for screwing up.

With something to prove the Globetrotters won that game the next day, destroying the Generals and it seemed once more order was restored to the world. 

Initially, the Trotters tried to hide the game and it went unmentioned as the Generals resumed losing game after game. But soon after, they realized that they were looking at this all wrong. Showing that the Globetrotters could in fact be defeated only added to their legacy. As the organisation never acknowledged the earlier Generals win, they realized that by acknowledging this win it showed the Trotters were not completely unbeatable and maybe, just maybe, it could happen again.

While Klotz team did play the game that night as the Reds, the win has always been credited to the Washington Generals. A logical decision, since the Reds were a different team in name only. But the irony has not been lost that the Generals only win ever acknowledged by the Harlem Globetrotters for so many years, was not technically won AS the Washington Generals. 

The Generals have not defeated the Globetrotters since that night 40 years ago. It's possible they never will again. But the Washington Generals job was never to win games. Their true job is to bring out the best in the Globetrotters while helping them entertain the fans. 

Klotz mentioned in an interview, that after the Generals definitive defeat at the hands of the Trotters the following night, who Klotz has stated in interviews could have beaten any team on earth that night, he looked up and saw the fans smiling and the children laughing. Klotz remarked how "...it was incredible, (his) team had won again." 

I'd argue the Washington Generals have been winning ever since.