One of professional basketball's original pioneers, Bernie Price became just the 14th person to receive the distinguished Harlem Globetrotter Legends award at Rosemont Horizon in Chicago on Feb. 26, 1999. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Price moved to Chicago as a teenager and quickly became known in basketball circles as an outstanding, quick and powerful forward/center. The Harlem Globetrotters signed the 6-3 ½ standout in the mid-1930's and he toured with the team for over 10 years. Price played in the annual World Professional Basketball tournament with the Globetrotters over a seven-year span (1939-45), and helped the team capture their first World Championship in 1940 with a 31-29 win over George Halas' Chicago Bruins.
Price enjoyed one of his finest basketball campaigns during the 1941-42 season when he scored over 3,000 points in a 104-game Globetrotter season, an incredible achievement during an era of low scoring games. Price joined the National Basketball League (the predecessor to today's NBA) in 1942 as a member of the Chicago Studebakers for one season. Price started at forward for the Studebakers and led the league in free throws made during his lone NBL season.
The Studebakers were the pioneers of racial integration, as nine of the 13 players on the roster in 1942-43 were African Americans. The NBL and the Studebakers were years ahead of professional baseball and football for breaking the color barrier. The 1950-51 season marked the first appearance of black players in the NBA, as Harlem Globetrotter Chuck Cooper became the first black player to be drafted in the NBA by Boston and teammate Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton became the first to sign an NBA contract when he signed with New York. Price passed away on Jan. 24, 2002.
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