The Washington Generals are an American exhibition basketball team, best known for their spectacular losing streak in exhibition games against the Harlem Globetrotters.
Washington Generals History
The Generals were formed in 1952 by Louis "Red" Klotz, who served as owner, player and coach, when Globetrotters’ owner Abe Saperstein invited Klotz to form a squad to accompany his team on their tours. With a nod to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Atlantic City–based Washington Generals were born. The Generals evolved from the Philadelphia Sphas, a team that dates back to the 1920s and was sold in 1950 to Klotz, who played for the team in the 1940s.== The Generals provided deliberately ineffective opposition as a foil for the Globetrotters' comedy routines. The Globetrotters' acts often featured incredible coordination and skillful handling of one or more basketballs, such as passing or juggling balls between players, balancing or spinning balls on their fingertips, and making unusual, difficult shots. The Generals on the other hand would try to play a game of "serious" basketball in return.
During the 1971-72 season, the Generals' name was alternated with the Boston Shamrocks, New Jersey Reds, Baltimore Rockets, and Atlantic City Seagulls. It was actually the same team of players but they would change uniforms between games to give the appearance of more teams. The team would rotate between these identities for a few seasons before going back to the Generals identity full-time.
From 1953 until 1995, the Generals played exhibitions against the Globetrotters, winning only six games, the last in 1971, and losing more than 13,000. It was as the New Jersey Reds that the Generals' last win came in a game against the Globetrotters. On January 5, 1971, the Globetrotters lost a game in Martin, Tennessee, in overtime to the Reds. It was Klotz himself who sank the winning basket for a 100-99 score that ended the Globetrotters' 2,499-game winning streak.
Klotz eventually "disbanded" the Generals in 1995, forming a new team, the New York Nationals, which also has achieved an impressive losing streak. In reality, of course, it was the same team; Klotz merely retired the Washington Generals identity. The Nationals remain a separate organization from the Globetrotters. Harlem claims its exhibition games are "real" and "competitive" contests.
After a 12-year hiatus, the Generals returned on October 9, 2007, playing against the Globetrotters at the 369th Harlem Armory. The Globetrotters won 54-50.
Washington Generals Roster
|Washington Generals roster
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Washington Generals Beating the Harlem Globetrotters
The Reds defeated the Globetrotters 100-99 on January 5, 1971 in Martin, Tennessee. It ended a 2,495-game winning streak – and was Harlem’s only loss between 1962 and 1995. Klotz credits the overtime win to a guard named Eddie Mahar, who was team captain. Harlem's captain, Curly Neal, did not play in this game.
While the Globetrotters were entertaining the crowd that day, they lost track of the game and the score. They found themselves down 12 points with two minutes left to go. Forced to play normal basketball, the Globetrotters rallied but could not recover.
The Reds secured their victory when Klotz hit the winning basket with seconds left. Then Meadowlark Lemon missed a shot that would have given the game back to Globetrotters. The timekeeper tried to stop the clock and couldn't. When the final buzzer sounded, the crowd was dumbfounded and disappointed. Klotz described the fans' reaction: "They looked at us like we killed Santa Claus."
Some children in the stands cried after the loss. The Reds celebrated by dousing themselves with orange soda instead of champagne. Lemon was furious, saying "You lost, I didn't lose," but still visited the opposing team’s locker room to congratulate the Reds.
Reds player Roy Kieval later said Globetrotters owner Abe Saperstein threatened his team over the event, even though he had died in 1966, five years prior to the event. As this was kayfabe basketball, it is uncertain how much, if any, of the upset story was an angle created to promote Globetrotters games. Both teams claimed that all their exhibitions were real, competitive contests.
Washington Generals Cultural references
- In The Simpsons episode "Homie the Clown", Krusty bets all the money he earned franchising his name - ultimately 48 dollars - against the Globetrotters, telling his financial advisor, "I thought the Generals were due!" In another episode, entitled "Lisa the Tree Hugger," Homer refers to the Luftwaffe as "the Washington Generals of the History Channel."
- In the Futurama episode, "Time Keeps On Slippin'", in a basketball game against the Harlem Globetrotters, Professor Farnsworth's Team of Atomic Supermen are dressed in Washington Generals colors. They do well at first and then lose inexplicably during a "time slip" during which one of the Atomic Supermen dies and Phillip J. Fry is substituted for him.
- On the September 28, 1991 Michael Jordan/Public Enemy episode of Saturday Night Live, there was a sketch entitled "The First Black Harlem Globetrotter." The Globetrotters were depicted as a white team, and in a dispute over Jordan's character joining the team, Mike Myers's character proclaims "Let's quit, we can start our own team, we can call it...the Washington Generals."
- Various unflattering comparisons have been drawn between the poor play of the Washington Nationals baseball team and the Generals, most notably by Chris "Mad Dog" Russo.
- In the season five finale of How I Met Your Mother Ted remarks to Robin "Never ending battle? Careers been trouncing Romance for years now. It's like the Globetrotters versus the Generals, career's sinking hookshots from half court, romance is just a bunch of slow white guys who couldn't make it in the Italian League"