PHOENIX--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame today announced their Class of 2011, a distinguished list of 10 players and coaches that includes the original “Clown Prince of Basketball,” Harlem Globetrotters Legend Reece “Goose” Tatum.
Tatum was elected from a newly formed Hall of Fame committee representing Early African-American Pioneers of the Game. Tatum will be enshrined into the Hall posthumously on Aug. 12, 2011, in Springfield, Mass., along with former players Chris Mullin, Dennis Rodman, Artis Gilmore, Tom “Satch” Sanders, Arvydas Sabonis, and Teresa Edwards; and coaches Tara VanDerveer, Herb Magee, and Tex Winter.
A Globetrotter for 12 remarkable seasons, Tatum was considered by many to be one of the greatest basketball players of his era and one of the best showmen in Globetrotter history.
In a 2002 article by Darren Ivy in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Marques Haynes – the first player inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a Globetrotter – said of his teammate, “Goose was responsible for creating great interest in basketball in this country and around the world…I’d say Michael Jordan is the Goose Tatum of today.”
Tatum started his career in the 1940s as a baseball player for the Birmingham Black Barons and the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro National League. It was during this time that his outstanding all-around athletic ability and comedic timing caught the eye of Globetrotters’ founder Abe Saperstein. Once signed to the Globetrotters by Saperstein, Tatum quickly became an unstoppable basketball force. He led the Globetrotters to historic defeats of George Mikan and the world champion Minneapolis Lakers in 1948 and 1949, paving the way for the integration of the game.
Following Tatum’s passing on Jan. 18, 1967, at the age of 45, Lawrence Casey of the Chicago Daily Defender wrote, “Like Joe Louis in boxing, Babe Ruth in baseball, Bobby Jones in golf…Goose Tatum was king of his chosen sport.”
Tatum – whose number 50 Globetrotters jersey was retired on Feb. 8, 2002 – joins a Hall of Fame list that includes Saperstein (1971), Haynes (1998), Meadowlark Lemon (2003), and the following Hall of Famers who at one time played for the world’s most famous basketball team: Wilt Chamberlain (1979), Magic Johnson (2002), Connie Hawkins (1992), William “Pop” Gates (1989), John Chaney (2001), and Lynette Woodard (2004). The Globetrotters were inducted into the Hall as a team in 2002, one of eight teams ever so honored.
Sponsored by Campbell Soup Company, Howard Johnson Hotels, America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses, Greyhound Lines, Spalding, and Russell Athletic, the Original Harlem Globetrotters continue a world famous tradition of ball handling wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that continues to thrill fans of all ages. Throughout their history, the Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 120 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers while providing fans with their first-ever basketball experience. Proud inductees of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Globetrotters have entertained hundreds of millions of fans over more than eight thrilling decades. To purchase tickets and team merchandise, visit the Globetrotters’ official Web site: www.harlemglobetrotters.com.