Globetrotters played important role in NBA’s history

In your October 11-17, 2021, edition of Sports Business Journal where you featured The Making of The NBA, there was no mention of the important part played by Abe Saperstein’s Harlem Globetrotters. This combination of basketball and clown fun, formed in the 1920s, reached great heights of appreciation and interest in the 40s and 50s. The “fun brand” of the all-Black, crowd-pleasing Trotters were a huge draw wherever they played.

In an effort to connect with the clear success of the 1950s Trotters, the NBA team owners would promote double headers. With the known attraction of the Trotters, the NBA teams would many times switch and have the Trotters play first to get fans into the arenas, hoping the people would stay to see the NBA team. The double header approach was used as much as possible, when it could fit in the national and international barnstorming schedule of the Trotters.

The success of the Globetrotters traveling all over the world and performing 2 and 3 times per day, helped the NBA to consider the international appeal of selling its game overseas.

Interestingly enough, from page 52 to 57 and page 71 of the 3rd edition of the official published NBA Encyclopedia, there are articles regarding the prominence of Saperstein’s Harlem Globetrotters.

It’s unfortunate that your readers could not learn about this very obvious and important part of The Making of The NBA.

Tom “Satch” Sanders
Charlton, Mass.

Questions about OPED guidelines or letters to the editor? Email editor Jake Kyler at

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