Saperstein was the commissioner of the American Basketball League, which he founded in 1961 after repeatedly being denied an NBA expansion franchise. He also owned the Chicago Majors team in that league. In an effort to differentiate the ABL from the NBA and promote it, Saperstein introduced the three-point shot.
In the 1988 Harlem Globetrotters documentary6 Decades of Magic, it was noted that Saperstein chose "Harlem" to indicate that the players were African-American, even though they were actually from Chicago, and the "Globetrotters" moniker to make it seem as though the team had traveled all around the world. Saperstein sewed the team's first red, white and blue jerseys himself, presumably having learned this skill from his tailor father.