Formed during the 1920s, the Harlem Globetrotters achieved international fame in the 1950s and have continued to maintain a high profile with their form of exhibition basketball. Over the years, eight people have been named honorary Globetrotters. Henry Kissinger was named the first honorary Globetrotter in 1976. Other honorary Globetrotters include Pope John Paul II, Whoopi Goldberg, Nelson Mandela, Bob Hope and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
More facts about the Harlem Globetrotters:
- Although they are not not honorary members, Bill Cosby and Earvin "Magic" Johnson were signed to lifetime contracts with the team, each for an annual rate of $1 US Dollar (USD) per year. In 1986, Cosby’s annual salary was increased to $1.05 USD per year.
- The signature moves of the Globetrotters date to 1941 and the hiring of Reece “Goose” Tatum. Tatum brought to the team some unusual comedy moves that quickly caught on with the rest of the team and made the Globetrotters a sensation with fans. By the end of World War II, the team had played 30,000 games.
- Five jersey numbers have been retired by the Globetrotters: 50 for Goose Tatum, 36 for Meadow "Meadowlark" Lemon, 13 for Wilt Chamberlain, 20 for Marques Haynes and 22 for Fred "Curly" Neal.