Could a Local Legend Soon Be The Next Big Exec in the NBA?
I'm a big sports guy. Football, basketball, hockey, combat sports...you name it, I love it. But, in my entire life, I can only think of 3 times I've ever went out of my way to purchase a ticket to a basketball game. One was to watch Michael Jordan's final home game in his career, one was to watch Bobby Knight coach in his last year and the other was to watch the Harlem Globetrotters. MJ is the GOAT (Greatest of all time, for those that don't know) of players and my personal favorite. Bobby Knight is the GOAT of college coaches. And the Harlem Globetrotters are the GOAT of basketball teams.
Despite not being considered a 'pro team', the Globetrotters are maybe the most recognizable basketball organization in the world. They do global tours, have been featured in TV shows and movies...whether you're a sports fan or not, you KNOW who the Harlem Globetrotters are. And one of the biggest parts of the Globetrotters long term success is due to a local legend (we'll talk about that in a minute).
Harlem Globetrotters want to become an NBA team
Now, the world famous Harlem Globetrotters are making a push to become an NBA expansion team. Commissioner Adam Silver has already gone on record to talk about expanding the league by a couple of teams over the few years. So, why not the Globetrotters? They are arguably the most famous basketball team in the world. Before the NBA became a thing, they were a championship winning basketball franchise. And, when you take away the gimmicks and gags, those guys are pretty damn good players. So, why not? Yeah, they'd probably have to add some additional pro level talent...but this could work. And the NBA would sell a TON of merch and tickets. Below is the letter GM Jeff Munn sent the NBA yesterday:
How a Minden Native Impacted the Globetrotters
And, one of the biggest parts of the Globetrotters success belongs to a local legend - Louis "Sweet Lou" Dunbar. For those that don't know, Sweet Lou is a Minden native and was one heck of a ball player. He attended Webster High (modern day Minden High School) in the 50s and ended up winning the State Championship his senior year. In fact, he was SO good, he was dubbed Louisiana's 'Mr. Basketball'.
He attended the University of Houston from 1972-1975 and averaged 22.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists during his career there. He got drafted by the 76ers in 1975, but for one reason or another, never played an NBA game. After a brief stint in the Swiss League (where he won a Championship), he ended his pro career and joined the Harlem Globetrotters.
If you've never had the pleasure of watching 'Sweet Lou' play ball, he basically was 'Magic' Johnson before Magic was a thing. He was a big guy at 6'9 that could do anything on a basketball court - dunk, pass, ball handle, a true 5 tool player. In the modern era of the NBA, he would have been a huge star. Unfortunately, outside of Elgin Baylor, nobody was doing what Sweet Lou was doing during that time period.
Although he never really got a shot to show what he could do at the NBA level, he certainly had a noteworthy career. During his time 27 year career with the Harlem Globetrotters, he has played on six continents in front of more than 10 million fans. Not bad.
Could Sweet Lou Become the Next Big NBA Executive
The 67 year old Minden native is still with the Globetrotters. He's an assistant coach and director of player personnel. And much like 'Sweet Lou' himself, the team may not be in the NBA (yet) but if you strip away all the gimmicks and gags, these guys can play ball with the best of them. And, if this does indeed happen, Lou Dunbar will be one of the most important parts of making the transition work. As director of player personnel, he'll be in charge of travel, handling the media, player orientation and several other very important pieces of an NBA franchise.
Now, will the NBA actually seriously consider adding the Harlem Globetrotters to their ranks as an expansion team? Who knows. My first instinct is to say there's no way. But, we're talking about the Globetrotters here. Anything is possible.