Courtesy of Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc.

Abraham Saperstein 1902-1966

Born in London, England, Abe Saperstein immigrated to America as a four-year-old. In the mid 1920s he took over the Savoy Big Five, a struggling African-American basketball team in Chicago that became the foundation of the Harlem Globetrotters. When the NBA became integrated in 1950, the Globetrotters struggled to retain its reputation and distinctiveness, and began introducing comic elements to its routines. With a "razzle-dazzle" style and trademark song, "Sweet Georgia Brown," the Globetrotters played exhibition games against amateur teams of all-white players in the 1960s. Though Saperstein and the Globetrotters drew some criticism in the Civil Rights era, the team's popularity grew, and it has now played in 120 countries. Saperstein was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971.