The Harlem Globetrotters were founded in Chicago in 1927 as the Savoy Big Five. They later changed their name to the Globe Trotters and eventually became the New York Harlem Globetrotters. The team has played in over 115 countries and has had honorary members such as Whoopi Goldberg and Nelson Mandela.
The Harlem Globetrotters did not originate in Harlem, NY, but began in Chicago, IL in 1927. Originally called the Savoy Big Five, the men’s basketball team was a premier attraction at the Savoy Ballroom in Chicago. After a few members left the team that year, several players organized with Abe Saperstein, owner and coach, a team called the Globe Trotters and played several games in Southern Illinois. Eventually the team named themselves the New York Harlem Globetrotters as an out-of-town name would add to the team’s reputation. It wasn’t until 1968, nearly 40 years after the team played their first exhibition, that the Globetrotters played their first game in Harlem.
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The team has named several celebrities and public figures as honorary members such as: Whoopi Goldberg, Nelson Mandela, and Pope John Paul II.
Lynette Woodard, Olympic gold medalist, became the first female Globetrotter in 1985.
The Globetrotters have played games in over 115 countries, including: Germany, Lebanon, Russia, and Italy.