Dear NBA,

It's been a while since our last formal meeting. 72 years to be exact. But we still remember that day in 1949, when we faced off against your World Champion Lakers. And for the second year in a row, we were victorious.

Yet, back in the day, that was a rare sight. For much of America, Black players were literally blackballed from playing with and against White players.

Even though it was us, The Original Harlem Globetrotters, who brought the street game inside. Even though it was the ‘Trotters who popularized the behind the back inside out handle (à la Kyrie), the no look pass (à la LBJ), the dunk (à la The Freak), the fast break (à la Magic), the jump shot from half court (à la Steph) and invented the hook shot from half court (à la No One).

People say it was that game in 1949 that sparked the integration of the NBA. Three years after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier, y'all finally allowed African American players to ball.

But instead of just letting us in, you took our players. The first Black player to sign an NBA contract - Nat Sweetwater Clifton, a Harlem Globetrotter. The first Black man to play in an NBA game - Earl Lloyd, another Globetrotter. While it was hard to see them go, we were proud of our young Black men for ushering in such a significant change to the game.

We continued to pack arenas and grow the game of basketball across the globe. When the NBA struggled to draw more than a few thousand fans, we agreed to schedule doubleheaders featuring the Globetrotters. As the NBA grew, you were able to attract the best Black players, but we remember who helped the NBA get it all started.

Don't get us wrong, we love what y'all have done recently and we are proud of how your players are standing up to make a difference in their communities. But don't get it twisted; basketball would not be what it is today without us.

You've played games in 17 countries. We've played in 122. We brought basketball to the world stage.

The world would have never heard of Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, if it wasn't for the Globetrotters.

We Spread Game!

Facts.

Back then, it was us; we were the ones who kept hope alive, and the game we all watch, play and love today … alive.

Congratulations on growing into a multi-billion-dollar industry with international endeavors and huge media deals. We've kept our heads down and focused on what means the most to us - world class basketball showmanship, uniting families and spreading joy of the game

So, if you really believe what you've been saying about social justice, going back to “normal” needs to look different. You can't just act like we don't exist anymore. It's time to right the wrongs and rewrite history. It's time for the NBA to honor what the Globetrotters have done for OUR sport, both here in the U.S. and around the globe.

Based on what we've already proven, we can field a team of talent on par with the pros of today, and we want the chance to do that. As a world renowned and legendary professional basketball team, we petition Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA governors and the powers that be to grant The Original Harlem Globetrotters an NBA franchise. Not now, but right now!

Sincerely,

The Harlem Globetrotters

Spread Game Manifesto