" . . . you have entertained generations of us with exuberant humor and astounding skill. But more important than your exploits on the court has been your ability to bring communities together in a spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship."
— U.S. President Bill Clinton
"Geese" Ausbie's exuberant personality and awe-inspiring skills exemplify the qualities that have thrilled audiences and made the Harlem Globetrotters international stars of the court. Dubbed "Clown Prince" in 1961, Ausbie served in that role until he retired in 1985, turning down offers from pro baseball and other pro basketball teams.
The Harlem Globetrotters started as an all-black barnstorming team in the 1920s. The team played only serious basketball until the 1939 season when they began clowning around whenever they had a safe lead. This magical blend of humor and skill launched their international celebrity.
Despite the pranks, no one doubted the team's virtuoso basketball talent. In 1950, the New York Knicks signed Globetrotter Nathaniel "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first African American player in the NBA.
The Globetrotters continued breaking barriers: during the 1970s they signed the first of several women players. The Globetrotters became so in demand that they had four separate teams on tour and played more games annually than the entire NBA combined.
Name: Hubert Ausbie
Born: Crescent, Oklahoma, 1938–