TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Dec. 28, 2015 — Meadowlark Lemon, 1932-2015

Meadowlark Lemon never played a minute in the NBA, but he may have had the best skill set of any basketball player, in any era, in any format.

Lemon was, for a 20-year time period spanning the late 50s into the mid-70s, the Clown Prince of the traveling Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. He participated in about 300 games a year, in cities across the world, in front of many diverse audiences.

On the court, he was a magnificent and skilled presence. The ball in the double-weave would start (and often) end with him. He could hit hook shots with either hand, often from enormous distances that would count for three points today. He could shoot free throws with an unbalanced basketball, or one with a string tied to it.

He ran the comedy bits with teammates, fans, and the opposing Washington Generals. And, lest we forget, the Globetrotters won almost every time.

Lemon was the first Globie to wear a wireless microphone while playing so as to keep a running commentary of the action for the fans in the stands. He joined a charismatic group of players including Geese Ausbie, Marques Haynes, and Curly Neal as the basketball troupe adorned cereal boxes, appeared on Saturday morning cartoons, and even beat a team of robots on Gilligan’s Island (I kid you not).

In the days before the integration of pro and college basketball, the Globetrotters stamped an international footprint of the game that was the envy of the NBA.

During Lemon’s time with the Globetrotters, there was an economic war going on between the NBA and ABA. Even after the merger, the NBA couldn’t get its championship finals on primetime network TV, and was relegated to tape delay going against the likes of Johnny Carson.

Lemon was a marketable, charismatic, and skilled figure who helped extend the Globetrotters to a global brand years before Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Lebron James, and the 1992 Dream Team.

And frankly, his induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 was long overdue.

Advertisements

No comments yet»

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: