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The Washington Generals are an American exhibition basketball team, best known for their spectacular losing streak in exhibition games against the Harlem Globetrotters. Today they are known as the World All-Stars.

Washington Generals
Washington Generals logo
Leagues Independent
Founded 1952
History Philadelphia Sphas
Washington Generals
(1952–1971, 1973–1995, 2006–2011, 2012–2013, 2014–2015)
Boston Shamrocks
New Jersey Reds
Baltimore Rockets
Atlantic City Seagulls
New York Nationals
International Elite
Global Select
World All-Stars
(2013–2014, 2015–present)
Arena Barnstorming team
Location Washington, D.C.
Team colors Green and Yellow
Ownership Herschend Entertainment
Championships ABL: 7 (1933–34, 1935–36, 1936–37, 1939–40, 1940–41, 1942–43, 1944–45)



The Generals were created in 1952 by Louis "Red" Klotz as a redesignation of the Philadelphia Sphas basketball team. Globetrotters owner Abe Saperstein had invited Klotz to create a squad to accompany his team on their tours. With a nod to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the team was named the Washington Generals.

The Generals provided deliberately ineffective opposition as a foil for the Globetrotters' comedy routines. The Globetrotters' acts often featured incredible coordination and skillful handling of one or more basketballs, such as passing or juggling balls between players, balancing or spinning balls on their fingertips, and making unusual, difficult shots. The Generals, on the other hand, would try to play a game of "serious" basketball in return.

During the 1971–72 season, the Generals' name was alternated with the Boston Shamrocks, New Jersey Reds, Baltimore Rockets, and Atlantic City Seagulls. It was actually the same team of players but they would change uniforms between games to give the appearance of more teams. The team rotated between these identities for a few seasons before going back to the Generals identity full-time.

From 1953 until 1995, the Generals played exhibitions against the Globetrotters, winning only six games, the last in 1971, and losing more than 13,000.

Klotz eventually "disbanded" the Generals in 1995, forming a new team, the New York Nationals, which also has achieved an impressive losing streak. In reality, of course, it was the same team; Klotz merely retired the Washington Generals identity. The Nationals remain a separate organization from the Globetrotters. Harlem claims its exhibition games are "real" and "competitive" contests.[1]

After a 12-year hiatus, the Generals returned on October 9, 2007, playing against the Globetrotters at the 369th Harlem Armory. The Globetrotters won 54–50.[1] Just prior to the 2011–12 World Tour the Washington Generals underwent yet another name change. They began facing the Harlem Globetrotters as both the "International Elite" and the "Global Select", alternating between the two from game to game.

For the 2013–14 Harlem Globetrotters World Tour, the team took on the name of "World All-Stars." Prior to the 2014–15 tour, the organization once again was given the name "Generals" for what has been titled the "Harlem Globetrotters 2015 Washington Generals' Revenge World Tour."

On August 12, 2015, the Generals announced that the Harlem Globetrotters had severed contractual relations with the Generals organization, and that the latter had ceased operations. The Generals played their last game against the Globetrotters on August 1, 2015 in Wildwood, New Jersey.[2][3]

In 2017, Herschend Entertainment, the owners of the Harlem Globetrotters, bought the Washington Generals from the Klotz family.[4]. As a reintroduction for the team, they were entered in ESPN's The Basketball Tournament 2017.[5] However their long losing run continued with a first round loss to the Matadors, a team composed of Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball alums, 76-72.

Beating the Harlem GlobetrottersEdit

The team has one recorded victory against the Globetrotters. Playing as the "New Jersey Reds", they won 100–99 on January 5, 1971 in Martin, Tennessee, ending their 2,495-game losing streak. Klotz credits the overtime win to a guard named Eddie Mahar, who was team captain.[6] Harlem's captain, Curly Neal, did not play in this game.[7]

While the Globetrotters were entertaining the crowd that day, they lost track of the game and the score. They found themselves down 12 points with two minutes left to go. Forced to play normal basketball, the Globetrotters rallied but could not recover.[8]

The Reds secured their victory when the 50-year-old Klotz hit the winning basket with seconds left. Then Meadowlark Lemon missed a shot that would have given the game back to the Globetrotters. The timekeeper tried to stop the clock but couldn't. When the final buzzer sounded, the crowd was dumbfounded and disappointed.[9] Klotz described the fans' reaction: "They looked at us like we killed Santa Claus."

Some children in the stands cried after the loss.[7] The Reds celebrated by dousing themselves with orange pop instead of champagne. Lemon was furious, saying, "You lost, I didn't lose," but still visited the opposing team’s locker room to congratulate the Reds.[9]

Retired numbersEdit


  1. ^ a b "The Official Site of the Harlem Globetrotters: FAQ Page". Archived from the original on 2014-01-05. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  2. ^ Posnanski, Joe. "Losers' Lament: After decades of defeat, the Washington Generals have lost for the final time". NBC Sports. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  3. ^ Rovell, Darren (August 14, 2015). "After 63 years, Globetrotters drop rival Generals as primary opponent". Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ The Last Time the Globetrotters Came Up Short, Newsday (New York) February 17, 1991.
  7. ^ a b "Curly Neal says he's an athlete first.", Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), January 7, 1990.
  8. ^ "Showtime in NBA Can Be Traced to Trotters", Sporting News, March 12, 1990.
  9. ^ a b "An Upset That Shook The Globe", Hartford Courant (Connecticut), March 19, 2000.

External linksEdit