R.I.P. Legendary Harlem Globetrotter and Basketball Hall of Famer Meadowlark Lemon

The 1976-77 National Unit Harlem Globetrotters team. Kneeling, from left: Nate Branch, Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon and Jackie Jackson. Standing, from left: Dallas Thornton, Edmond Lawrence, Robert Paige, Twiggy Sanders and Jerry Venable. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The 1976-77 National Unit Harlem Globetrotters team. Kneeling, from left: Nate Branch, Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon and Jackie Jackson. Standing, from left: Dallas Thornton, Edmond Lawrence, Robert Paige, Twiggy Sanders and Jerry Venable. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Meadowlark Lemon, whose halfcourt hook shots, no-look behind-the-back passes and vivid clowning were marquee features of the feel-good traveling basketball show known as the Harlem Globetrotters for nearly a quarter-century, died on Sunday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 83.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Cynthia Lemon, who did not specify the cause.

A gifted athlete with an entertainer’s hunger for the spotlight, Lemon, who dreamed of playing for the Globetrotters as a boy in North Carolina, joined the team in 1954, not long after leaving the Army. Within a few years, he had assumed the central role of showman, taking over from the Trotters’ long-reigning clown prince Reece Tatum, whom everyone called Goose.

Tatum, who had left the team around the time Lemon joined it, was a superb ballplayer whose on-court gags — or reams, as the players called them — had established the team’s reputation for laugh-inducing wizardry at a championship level.

This was a time when the Trotters were known for more than their comedy routines and basketball legerdemain; they were also recognized as a formidable competitive team. Their victory over the Minneapolis Lakers in 1948 was instrumental in integrating the National Basketball Association, and a decade later their owner, Abe Saperstein, signed a 7-footer out of the University of Kansas to a one-year contract before he was eligible for the N.B.A.: Wilt Chamberlain.

Meadowlark Lemon showed off his large hands on arrival in London, where the Globetrotters performed at the Empire Pool in Wembley for a week in 1959. (Associated Press)

Meadowlark Lemon showed off his large hands on arrival in London, where the Globetrotters performed at the Empire Pool in Wembley for a week in 1959. (Associated Press)

By then, Lemon, who was 6 feet 3 inches tall and slender, was the team’s leading light, such a star that he played center while Chamberlain played guard.

Lemon was a slick ballhandler and a virtuoso passer, and he specialized in the long-distance hook, a trick shot he made with remarkable regularity. But it was his charisma and comic bravado that made him perhaps the most famous Globetrotter. For 22 years, until he left the team in 1978, Lemon was the Trotters’ ringmaster, directing their basketball circus from the pivot. He imitated Tatum’s reams, including spying on the opposition’s huddle, and added his own.

He threatened referees or fans with a bucket that like as not was filled with confetti instead of water. He dribbled above his head and walked with exaggerated steps. He mimicked a hitter in the batter’s box and, with teammates, pantomimed a baseball game. And both to torment the opposing team — as time went on, it was often a hired squad of foils — and to amuse the appreciative spectators, he smiled and laughed and teased and chattered; like Tatum, he talked most of the time he was on the court.

The Trotters played in mammoth arenas and on dirt courts in African villages. They played in Rome before the pope; they played in Moscow during the Cold War before the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev. In the United States, they played in small towns and big cities, in Madison Square Garden, in high school gyms, in cleared-out auditoriums — even on the floor of a drained swimming pool. They performed their most entertaining ballhandling tricks, accompanied by their signature tune, “Sweet Georgia Brown,” on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Through it all, Lemon became “an American institution like the Washington Monument or the Statue of Liberty” whose “uniform will one day hang in the Smithsonian right next to Lindbergh’s airplane,” as the Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray once described him.

Significantly, Lemon’s time with the Globetrotters paralleled the rise of the N.B.A. When he joined the team, the Globetrotters were still better known than the Knicks and the Boston Celtics and played for bigger crowds than they did. When he left, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were about to enter the N.B.A. and propel it to worldwide popularity. In between, the league became thoroughly accommodating to black players, competing with the Globetrotters for their services and eventually usurping the Trotters as the most viable employer of top black basketball talent.

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LeBron James-Produced Comedy Series Gets Picked Up by Starz

LeBron JamesStarz has given a series order to the basketball comedy from NBA star LeBron James.  The half-hour scripted series, Survivor’s Remorse, is set in the world of professional basketball and, according to the series description, “explores the comedy and drama of an experience that everyone reads about but few understand — what truly happens when you make it out.”  The comedy was announced last September and the shot clock is ticking fast, with a fall premiere being eyed. For the premium channel that has steadily crafted a brand of sweeping period dramas, Survivor’s Remorse marks a toe-dipping back into the comedy waters.

It centers on Cam Calloway, a basketball powerhouse in his early 20s who must navigate the limelight after inking a multimillion-dollar contract with a professional basketball team. Something the Miami Heat star might know something about.  James serves as an executive producer, alongside Tom Werner (RoseanneThat ’70s Show), Maverick Carter, Paul Wachter and Mike O’Malley (actor on Glee, writer on Shameless), who will also write.

“Ever since I got cut from the freshman hoop team at Bishop Guertin High School in 1980, I’ve wanted to write about my love and hatred of basketball,” O’Malley said in a statement. “Starz has given us great freedom to explore an authentic world inspired by Maverick and LeBron. Tom’s legendary TV career and his experiences as a professional sports owner combined with Paul’s wealth of business and entertainment industry relationships have given this team a truly strong foundation to build a successful series.”

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Marquis Taylor Quits Wall Street Job to Help Impoverished Youth Through Basketball

Marquis Taylor (far left) with a group of young students participating in the mentorship program. (Photo courtesy of Coaching 4 Change website)

Marquis Taylor (far left) with a group of young students participating in the mentorship program. (Photo courtesy of Coaching 4 Change website)

Marquis Taylor, 29, is a man making a difference.  Once a working professional on Wall Street, Taylor left his job in real estate finance and dedicated his time to helping youth in low-income communities through his grassroots organization, Coaching4Change.

As the founder and executive director of the program, Taylor mentors the youth by teaching them the fundamental lessons provided through sports.  His mentoring guidelines are designed to stimulate the educational environment of kids in urban areas and they have proven to bring positive change to these impoverished communities.  Taylor’s mentorship program has directly affected one student in particular who grew up in a single home with eight siblings, according to a story reported by The Huffington Post.

The student was frequently in trouble and failing most of his classes but with Taylor’s guidance, he was able to raise his GPA almost two full points and he became inspired to launch an after-school program where he taught younger students the basics of basketball.  For Taylor, many of the lives of students he has helped reflect on some of the same hardships he faced as a child.

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EBC Suspends Summer Tournament To Host Trayvon Martin Invitational

A Black ANd White Photo Of Trayvon Martin

On Friday, July 26th the Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC) will suspend their summer tournament for one weekend to host the Trayvon Martin Invitational in memory of the slain Florida teen.  In conjunction with Vibe Magazine and NYC radio station Hot 97, the tournament will host New York’s elite streetball teams (within the tri-state area), top NBA players and celebrities who will come together at the legendary Rucker Park. There will be 2 games every night at 6pm & 8pm with the winning teams of each game advancing toward the Invitational Championship game which takes place on Monday, July 29 at 8pm. Bringing young and old together, the EBC in conjunction with activist Kevin Powell will host community leaders at the park to speak to the Harlem fans and attendees.

CEO and founder of EBC, Greg Marius states “This is an extremely difficult time for many people, I can not begin to express my sympathy with Trayvon Martin’s family but only show my support by joining together as a community to make a difference. If we do not make a stand for all the injustices now, who will?”

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Miami Heat top San Antonio Spurs in Game 7, Repeat as NBA Champs, LeBron James Named Finals MVP

MIAMI — The moment arrived. Players were spent, the emotional and physical toll zapping them of almost everything they had.

LeBron James had the ball at the top of the key. He drove right and with San Antonio Spurs guard Kawhi Leonard guarding him, James pulled up and drilled a 19-foot jump shot with 27.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter. He pumped his fists and the crowd went crazy.

With that shot of adrenalin, James stole the ball on the next possession, made the free throws and secured the victory. These are his kind of moments.

James finished with a game-high 37 points and led the Miami Heat to a 95-88 victory vs. the Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, giving Miami its second consecutive NBA championship.

James, the four-time MVP, was named Finals MVP for the second consecutive season.

BOX SCORE: Heat 95, Spurs 88

WATCH: Heat guard banks in a three at buzzer

DUNCAN: Watch his slow one-man fast break

The game was back and forth throughout. The Spurs’ biggest lead was seven at 11-4 and the Heat’s was six on a couple of occasions until the final seconds. This was the kind of game you expect in a Game 7, and the third competitive game of the series.

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Brooklyn Nets Hire Jason Kidd as Coach

In this July 12, 2012 file photo, Jason Kidd speaks during a news conference at the New York Knicks training facility in Tarrytown, N.Y. The New York Knicks say Kidd has decided to retire from the NBA after 19 seasons. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Jason Kidd (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

The Brooklyn Nets have hired Jason Kidd as their coach, bringing the former star back to the franchise. Kidd just retired after his 19th NBA season and the Nets decided to hire him despite his lack of coaching experience.

The move reunites Kidd with the franchise he led to consecutive NBA Finals in 2002-03, when they played in New Jersey. “Welcome home, Jason,” owner Mikhail Prokhorov says Wednesday in a statement.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press; article by Brian Mahoney, AP via thegrio.com

LeBron James Chosen to be Cover Athlete for NBA2K14 Video Game

LeBron

While LeBron James and the Miami Heat are currently down 0-1 against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, he was awarded another accolade to be another notch added to his belt.

Coming off his fourth MVP season in 5 years, King James has been selected to cover the upcoming NBA2K14 video game.

The multi-platform basketball simulation has been the premier sports experience for over the past decade and it’ll be the first time James has graced the cover.

Included within NBA2k14 will be bonus features inspired by LeBron James’ overall career. 

NBA2K14 will be released October 1st, 2013, right as the NBA season will be resuming its play. Will you buy? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

article by Kyle Harvey via thegrio.com