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Abe Saperstein

(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 substitute.

Clowing aside, the Trotters won the World Basketball Championship in l940--providing substance to Saperstein’s long-ignored claim that, given the opportunity, they were among basketball’s best. In 1943-44, the Abe’s Five captured basketball’s 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 sports.

Sources: International Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame