Meadowlark Lemon, beloved Harlem Globetrotter, passes away at 83

Meadowlark Lemon, beloved Harlem Globetrotter, passes away at 83
(Image: NYT, Librado Romero)

[Ed. – I saw Lemon in a Globetrotters performance in Corpus Christi, Texas in the early 1970s.  What a magical experience for a young kid.  I’m sure many in LU Nation have similar stories.  R.I.P.]

Meadowlark Lemon, whose halfcourt hook shots, no-look behind-the-back passes and vivid clowning were marquee features of the feel-good traveling basketball show known as the Harlem Globetrotters for nearly a quarter-century, died on Sunday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 83. …

A gifted athlete with an entertainer’s hunger for the spotlight, Lemon, who dreamed of playing for the Globetrotters as a boy in North Carolina, joined the team in 1954, not long after leaving the Army. Within a few years, he had assumed the central role of showman, taking over from Reece Tatum, whom everyone called Goose, the Trotters’ long-reigning clown prince. …

[I]n 1978…Lemon was dismissed after a salary dispute. He subsequently formed his own traveling teams — Meadowlark Lemon’s Bucketeers, the Shooting Stars and Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All-Stars — and continued performing into his 70s. …

“Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I’ve ever seen,” [Wilt] Chamberlain said in a television interview not long before he died in 1999. “People would say it would be Dr. J or even Jordan. For me, it would be Meadowlark Lemon.” …

As a boy in Wilmington, he learned basketball at a local boys’ club; he told The Hartford Courant in 1999 that he was so poor that he practiced by using a coat hanger for a basket, an onion sack for a net and a Carnation milk can for a ball. After high school, he briefly attended Florida A&M University before spending two years in the Army. …

In 1986, Lemon became an ordained Christian minister; he and his wife founded a nonprofit evangelistic organization, Meadowlark Lemon Ministries, in 1994.

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