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Some of my fondest memories are of going to see the basketball exhibitions of the Harlem Globetrotters with Grampa. I remember he’d always share that he once played against them, so I asked about that recently.
In 1936, a year after he graduated from high school, Grampa (Pierre Conner) played for the Midland, South Dakota town basketball team. The Harlem Globetrotters would travel and play against all the town teams in the area. Grampa was a guard and his opposing guard could hold the whole ball in one hand and moved very fast.
As Grampa said, “They made monkeys of all of us!”
And I know he loved it!
The Globetrotters were founded in 1927 with men from Chicago. They actually didn’t play their first game in Harlem until 1968; they thought that the mystique of the “African-American” capital of Harlem would bring more business. By 1936, the same year that they played against Grampa, the Harlem Globetrotters had played over 1,000 games, one of which was against the Original Celtics, who walked off the court in the last two minutes of the game so as not to lose. In 1940, the Globetrotters, won the World Professional Basketball Tournament.
The Globetrotters still come to play every year and every year it is in January when I am too poor to buy the now oh-so-expensive tickets. But one of these years, I will go back and see them again!