IF YOU GO:
Who: The Harlem Globetrotters
When: 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Covelli Centre,
229 E. Front St., Youngstown.
Tickets: $17, $20, $30, $34 and $73 at the box office
By John Benson
For Youngstown basketball fans feeling down about the state of professional basketball in Northeast Ohio, things could be worse. Imagine if over the past five decades your squad posted a 2-13,000 mark. That’s two victories and 13,000-some losses. Really, after 10,000, who’s counting?
That team is The Washington Generals — formed in 1952 and foil to the famed Harlem Globetrotters — which last beat the “Sweet Georgia Brown” outfit nearly four decades ago. Though it appears the Generals are paid to throw every game in favor of the red-white-and-blue global basketball enterprise, a l professional wrestling, the truth is the team is serious in is intentions to win — or at least compete. The proof is winning is exactly what happened January 5, 1971, when the Globetrotters lost in overtime 100-99. In fact, the winning shot was taken by none other than Washington Generals owner-coach Abe Klotz.
Fans can see the rivalry continue when both teams return to Youngstown for two performances Saturday at the Covelli Centre. The Vindicator talked to Klotz about his notable squad, how he plans on defending the Globetrotters’ new four-point shot and his message to late-night comedians who often refer to his players as a punch line.
Q. Why have the Washington Generals lasted for so long?
A. The Washington Generals have provided the best opposition team for the Harlem Globetrotters since 1952. They’ve had many All-American players, some who went on to play in the NBA.
Q. In your opinion, what’s the role of the Washington Generals in relation to the Harlem Globetrotters?
A. The role of the Generals is to provide the Harlem Trotters with a tough opponent that is able to do their part in bringing an entertaining show to the fans.
Q. Going back to the last victory over the Globetrotters, what do you attribute that win to?
A. At the end of the game in Martin, Tenn., instead of the Trotters returning to the show, they remained in a competitive mode and never figured I would throw up the winning field goal to beat them.
Q. Known for the greatest losing streak in basketball history, what in your opinion is the weakness of the Generals?
A. It’s not about a Generals weakness but has more to do with playing fabulous Harlem Globetrotter teams.
Q. Is being a Washington Generals player a stepping-stone to joining another team?
A. We have developed a great reputation over the years of offering players the opportunity of playing the game of basketball all over the world, as well as improving both their skills and life experiences.
Q. Any notable players who once were a member of the Generals?
A. There have been many great Washington Generals over the years such as Benny Purcell, Eddie Marr, Bill Campion and probably the greatest player, Bill Spivey. The Generals have provided players who have become Harlem Globetrotters and NBA players such as Sam Pelham and Charlie Chris, who played for the Atlanta Hawks.
Q. This year the Globetrotters are unveiling their own four-point shot. Any idea how you’ll defend this?
A. The new four-point shot being used by the Trotters may turn out to be sensational, especially for small men to bring them back into the NBA. Also, it can help a team (win) at the end of a close game.
Q. Finally, when you hear a comedian make fun of the Generals, what do you think?
A. They know who we are; that’s called show business.