Dr. John "Jumpin' Johnny" Kline was a standout basketball leader on and off the court. Kline's career with the Harlem Globetrotters spanned from 1953 to 1959 where he traveled all over the United States and abroad with the organization. During his tenure with the Globetrotters, they won the "World Series of Basketball" against the College All-Americans, and in 1959 posted their first undefeated season with 441 wins.
Originally from Detroit, Mich., Kline was a basketball All-American and 1952 Athlete of the Year at Wayne State University, Most Valuable Player in the first Motor City Tournament and a finalist in the United States Olympic trials for track before he joined the Globetrotters. After his career ended with the Globetrotters, Kline went back to Wayne State University and earned a doctorate in history and philosophy of education. He founded The Black Legends of Basketball in 1996, an organization that recognizes pioneers in the game of basketball.
Kline was honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with The Mannie Jackson - Basketball’s Human Spirit Award on August 11, 2011. The criteria for award winners includes embracing the core values of the game through hard work, dedication, and resilience; striving to continuously improve the community they serve, and making an ongoing commitment to others. Beyond the gabeme, award winners must reflect the values of Mannie Jackson’s life-long mission to overcome obstacles and challenge the status quo, while taking responsibility for personal actions and seeking the highest standard of excellence. Kline passed away on July, 26, 2018, at the age of 86.
He received his "Legends" ring during a special ceremony at The Palace of Auburn Hills on February 3, 2002.