Story at a glance

  • The Harlem Globetrotters want to join the NBA as a franchise.
  • The team wrote an open letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver saying they were left out of the integration process in 1949, despite the NBA taking many of their players.
  • The first Black player to sign a contract with the NBA, Nat Sweetwater Clifton, was a Harlem Globetrotter.

The Harlem Globetrotters want to join the NBA.

The famous exhibition basketball team, known for the tricks and comedy infused in its play, want to be instated as a franchise.

In an open letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the Globetrotters said the team was left out of the NBA’s integration process, despite the association poaching many of its players.

“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,” Silver said in the letter. “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.”


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Now, 72 years after their last meeting with the NBA, the Globetrotters, who have won 27,000 competitions, want to join as a franchise after exhibiting the team’s talent and widespread appeal.

“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,” the team said. “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 NBA hasn’t issued a comment at this time.


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Published on Jun 23, 2021