When Abe Saperstein founded the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team in Chicago in 1926, he adopted the name Harlem — a New York City district with a large African-American population — to indicate its players were African-American, and he chose Globetrotters to create the illusion that the Chicago-based team had traveled the world.
Throughout its history, the Harlem Globetrotters, made up almost entirely of African-American players, have played over 25,000 games in 118 countries.
On the evenings of April 9 and 10, 1946, at the Kauai High School Gym, the Globetrotters played a two-game series against the Rainbow All Stars of Honolulu before 1,500 and 1,200 fans respectively, considered to be the best basketball show ever on Kauai.
Their two-night Kauai performance was part of a 17-game, first-ever visit to the Territory of Hawaii.
At that time, the Globetrotters were a serious competitive team that would clown around only after gaining a safe lead, whereas nowadays they are strictly an exhibition team focusing on basketball tricks and comedy routines.
World War II Army Air Corps veteran, 6-foot-4-inch Reece “Goose” Tatum was the Globetrotters’ star attraction. His amazingly accurate hook shots and “baseball play” on the court as batter, runner and scorer thrilled Kauai fans. “Goose” Tatum was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
He and Louis “Babe” Pressley, Zachary Clayton, Tom Sealy, John Scott, Sam “Boom Boom” Wheeler and Ted “Big Jeep” Strong outscored a good Honolulu team 47-30 and 44-30, while bringing the house down both nights with their showmanship.
Outstanding players for the All Stars were Frank Maestri, Bob Kahana, Tom Eberle, Pickles Banks, George Lee, Frank Fitzgerald and Walter Wong.
Prior to Thursday’s game, County Chairman William Ellis presented plaques to the players on behalf of Kauai’s basketball fans.