Louis “Red” Klotz, who was involved in over 19,000 games against the Harlem Globetrotters as a player, coach and owner, became the first non-Globetrotter to have a jersey retired by the team when the Globetrotters honored Klotz in his native Philadelphia on March 13, 2011. Klotz became only the sixth person in the Globetrotters’ history to receive this distinction, joining Curly Neal (No. 22), Goose Tatum (No. 50), Marques Haynes (No. 20), Meadowlark Lemon (No. 36), and Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13), as the only individuals ever so honored by the team.
He was the first non-Globetrotter to receive the “Legends” award, when he was was presented with the honor on March 10, 2007, at the Liacouras Center, during the Globetrotters’ annual visit to Philadelphia.
For more than half a century, Klotz put together a team to face the Globetrotters, including the widely known and popular Washington Generals. The partnership began in 1952, when Globetrotters’ Owner Abe Saperstein offered Klotz the opportunity to form a team to play the Globetrotters.
Prior to his relationship with the Globetrotters, Klotz perfected his set shot and dribbling as a standout player at South Philadelphia High School, where he led the team to city championships in 1939 and 1940, both times earning Philadelphia Player of the Year honors. Klotz attended Villanova on a basketball scholarship from 1942-1944 and went on to play for the Philadelphia SPHAS of the American Basketball League from 1944-1947. Klotz joined the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets midway through the 1947-48 season, a season in which the Bullets went on to defeat the Philadelphia Warriors in six games to win the NBA title.
Klotz once waxed that, “Like Fred Astaire had Ginger Rogers, the Harlem Globetrotters have always had a dance partner…but I’ve always been dancing backwards.” Klotz’s teams played games in front of popes, kings and queens; on aircraft carriers, in bullrings, and on soccer fields; and in over 100 countries and thousands of cities around the world. The last time one of Klotz’s teams tasted victory over the Globetrotters came on January 5, 1971, in Martin, Tennessee, when Klotz, age 50 at the time, hit the game-winning shot as his New Jersey Reds defeated the Globetrotters 100-99.
Klotz passed away on July 12, 2014, at the age of 93.