Wednesday, July 16, 2014

To Absent Friends - Red Klotz

Red Klotz passed way earlier this week at the age of 93.  

Who is Red Klotz, you might ask?  Well, Red is most famous for being the player-coach of the Washington Generals, the team that toured with and played against the Harlem Globetrotters.  The Generals, under Klotz' leadership, lost to the Globetrotters over 14,000 times.

In reading about Klotz, you find that there was more to him than that.  He was a Philadelphia high school basketball whiz in in 1939 and 1940.  He attended Villanova University, served in World War II, and had a brief, 11 game career in the NBA with the Baltimore Bullets in 1947-48.  At 5'7", he is the shortest man to ever play in an NBA playoff game.  He is the only non-Globie to be inducted into the Harlem Globetrotters "Legends Ring".

I remember once reading a great story about Red Klotz.  I can't remember the exact source, but it was probably in either a Wilt Chamberlain biography or the Connie Hawkins biography.  Anyway, as the story goes, one night, either the Trotters heart wasn't in it, or the Generals just decided to play for real for a change, and, all of a sudden, for once the Globetrotters were in a competitive game with the Generals.  The Globies found themselves having to play real basketball, and, more importantly, the paying customers weren't happy because they weren't  getting what they paid to see.  Player-coach Klotz called time out and started screaming "What in the hell are you guys doing?" at his players.  He them put herself in the game (he was probably in his fifties at the time) and started heaving up 30 and 40 foot shots to allow the Globies to get back in the game and restore order in the world. 

RIP Red Klotz.

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