(1902 - 1966)
Abe Saperstein was founder, owner, and coach of the Harlem Globetrotters
Basketball Team. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970.
In 1927, the 5'5" Saperstein took over a Chicago all-Negro basketball
team called the Savoy Big Five, changed its name to the Harlem Globetrotters,
and created a legend that is currently well into its second half-century.
The early Trotters were a serious basketball five, sporting a 397 victories-32
losses record in their first three seasons. Finding difficulty locating
willing opponents, Abe conceived the idea of comedic, razzle-dazzle
type of play. Soon the team became a must-see attraction on the professional
basketball barnstorming circuit. It wasn't until l940 that the Trotters
starting showing a profit, and during those lean years, Abe was not
only its coach, chauffeur, and trainer, he was also the team's only
Clowing aside, the Trotters won the World Basketball Championship in
l940--providing substance to Sapersteins long-ignored claim that,
given the opportunity, they were among basketballs best. In 1943-44,
the Abes Five captured basketballs International Cup.
Over the years, the Globetrotters developed into an international entertainment
attraction, playing in more than 80 countries on five continents, as
well as on television and in motion pictures. They are undoubtedly the
most famous sports organization in the world, with Abe labeled the "Barnum
Of Basketball", and his Trotters known as "America's Number
One Goodwill Ambassadors".
Saperstein was also a pioneering entrepreneur in America's Negro Baseball
League, and was a key figure in opening the way for Blacks into professional
Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame