The Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team that combines athleticism, theater and comedy. The executive offices for the team are located in downtown Phoenix, Arizona; the team is owned by Shamrock Holdings, which oversees the various investments of the Roy E. Disney family.
Over the years they have played more than 20,000 exhibition games in 118 countries. Brother Bones’s whistled version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” is the team’s signature song. “Globie” has been their mascot since 1993.
The official history contains several details which seem contradictory, such as the team being organized in 1926 in the Savoy Ballroom, which opened in 1927. What is clear is that the genesis of the Globetrotters took place in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois in the 1920s, where all the original players grew up. Most of the players also attended Wendell Phillips High School. When the Savoy Ballroom opened in November 1927, one of the premier attractions was the Savoy Big Five, a basketball team that played exhibitions before dances. Hinckley, Illinois was home to the first Harlem Globetrotters game on January 7, 1927. In 1928, several players left the team in a dispute over bringing back other players who had left the team. That fall, several players led by Tommy Brookins formed a team called the “Globe Trotters” which would tour Southern Illinois that spring. Abe Saperstein became involved with the team, though to exactly what extent is unclear. In any event, by 1929 Saperstein was touring Illinois and Iowas with his basketball team, called the “New York Harlem Globe Trotters”. Saperstein decided to pick Harlem as their home city since Harlem was considered the center of African-American culture at the time, and an out-of-town team name would give the team more of a mystique. After four decades of existence, the Globetrotters played their first “home” game in Harlem in 1968.