NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)- The Harlem Globetrotters have entertained basketball fans throughout the U.S. and around the world since their inception in 1926 and now, they want a chance to prove they’re among the best teams in the world.
The team penned an open letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver asking the league and its governors to grant them a franchise. The Globetrotters letter says that they are ready “right now” to compete against the league’s best.
In the letter, the Globetrotters note that competition against NBA teams is part of the team’s history, having beaten the then-Minneapolis Lakers twice in 1948 and 1949. Those games have been pointed to in subsequent years as a spark in the league’s integration in 1952. However, when the league integrated, the Globetrotters weren’t brought into the fold, instead they say they were raided for their players.
— Harlem Globetrotters (@Globies) June 22, 2021
“People say it was that game in 1949 that sparked the integration of the NBA. Three years after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier, y’all finally allowed African American players to ball,” the Globetrotters letter reads. “But instead of just letting us in, you took our players. The first Black player to sign an NBA contract – Nat Sweetwater Clifton, a Harlem Globetrotter. The first Black man to play in an NBA game – Earl Lloyd, another Globetrotter. While it was hard to see them go, we were proud of our young Black men for ushering in such a significant change to the game.”
The Globetrotters also point to their influence in growing the game globally, stating that the league has been to 17 countries while the Globetrotters have visited 122 over the course of their existence. They state that while they love what the NBA has done, the Globetrotter influence on basketball is undeniable.
“Don’t get us wrong, we love what y’all have done recently and we are proud of how your players are standing up to make a difference in their communities. But don’t get it twisted; basketball would not be what it is today without us,” the letter states.
Finally, the letter calls on the league to prove that it believes what it has been saying in regards to social justice.
“So, if you really believe what you’ve been saying about social justice, going back to ‘normal’ needs to look different. You can’t just act like we don’t exist anymore. It’s time to right the wrongs and rewrite history. It’s time for the NBA to honor what the Globetrotters have done for OUR sport, both here in the U.S. and around the globe,” the letter reads.
“Based on what we’ve already proven, we can field a team of talent on par with the pros of today, and we want the chance to do that. As a world renowned and legendary professional basketball team, we petition Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA governors and the powers that be to grant The Original Harlem Globetrotters an NBA franchise. Not now, but right now!”
The Globetrotters have seen numerous players go on to NBA careers including Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins and Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton. Now, the team is asking to be brought into the NBA ranks and given the opportunity full-time to compete against the other 30 franchises.