Washington Generals

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Washington Generals
Washington Generals logo
Leagues Independent
Founded 1917
History Philadelphia Sphas
Washington Generals
(1952–1971, 1973-1995, 2006-2011, 2012-2013, 2014-)
Boston Shamrocks
New Jersey Reds
Baltimore Rockets
Atlantic City Seagulls
New York Nationals
International Elite
Global Select
World All-Stars
Location Washington, D.C.
Team colors Green and Yellow
Head coach Red Klotz
Ownership Red Klotz
Championships ABL: 7 (1933-34, 1935-36, 1936-37, 1939-40, 1940-41, 1942-43, 1944-45)
Website washingtongenerals.com

The Washington Generals were an American exhibition basketball team, best known for their spectacular losing streak in exhibition games against the Harlem Globetrotters.


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 rotate 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.[2]

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.[3][4]

Current roster[edit]

Washington Generals roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Height Weight DOB (YYYY–MM–DD) From
United States Birch, David 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) KS Ottawa University
United States Breslin, Kevin Washington College
United States Brown, Dominique Voorhees College
United States Faust, Shawn 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) University of West Florida
United States Giles Jr., Brice SUNY Suffolk CC
United States Gunderson, Ryan University of St. Francis
United States Hargrove, Kevin 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) Muhlenberg College
United States Howell, Dwayne 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Snead College
United States Jackson, James 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) Bellarmine University
United States Links, Zach 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) Rutgers
United States Lowder, Gabriel Guilford
Australia Omolade, Moses San José State
G India Owens, Qadr 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) University of St. Francis
United States Samuels, Dwane 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) Virginia State University
United States Simpson, Zachary 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) Elmira College
United States Smith, Anthony 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Robert Morris University
United States Tornincasa, Trent Hawaii Pacific University
United States Vilsaint, James 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) University of West Florida
United States Woodlin, Andre 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Kutztown University
United States Champion, Frank 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) Gwynedd Mercy College
United States Delfino, Josh 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) Southeastern Oklahoma State
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

Last transaction: 2012-10-08

Beating the Harlem Globetrotters[edit]

The Reds defeated the Globetrotters 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.[5] Harlem's captain, Curly Neal, did not play in this game.[6]

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.[7]

The Reds secured their victory when 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 and couldn't. When the final buzzer sounded, the crowd was dumbfounded and disappointed.[8] Klotz described the fans' reaction: "They looked at us like we killed Santa Claus."[9]

Some children in the stands cried after the loss.[6] The Reds celebrated by dousing themselves with orange soda 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.[8]

Retired numbers[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the television show Suits episode "Bad Faith," during a friendly banter between Harvey Specter and Louis Litt to whom is the better attorney, Harvey says "And the Washington Generals think they can beat the Globetrotters, but they aren't even in the same league". Louis then mentions that his father used to play for the Washington Generals.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homie the Clown," Krusty bets all the money he earned franchising his name—ultimately 48 dollars—against the Globetrotters, telling his financial adviser, "I thought the Generals were due!" In another episode, entitled "Lisa the Tree Hugger," Homer refers to the Luftwaffe as "the Washington Generals of the History Channel."
  • In the Futurama episode "Time Keeps On Slippin'", in a basketball game against the Harlem Globetrotters, Professor Farnsworth's Team of Atomic Supermen are dressed in Washington Generals colors. They do well at first and then lose inexplicably during a "time slip" during which one of the Atomic Supermen dies and Philip J. Fry is substituted for him.
  • On the September 28, 1991, Michael Jordan/Public Enemy episode of Saturday Night Live, there was a sketch titled "The First Black Harlem Globetrotter." The Globetrotters were depicted as a white team, and in a dispute over Jordan's character joining the team, Mike Myers's character proclaims, "Let's quit, we can start our own team, we can call it...the Washington Generals."
  • Various unflattering comparisons have been drawn between the poor play of the Washington Nationals baseball team and the Generals, most notably by Chris "Mad Dog" Russo.[10] ESPN commenters did the same with DC's NBA franchise, the Washington Wizards.[11] On occasion, in light of the Washington Redskins name controversy, Keith Olbermann rotates the Washington Generals' name amongst other defunct Washington sports franchises among them the Federals, Whips and Diplomats.
  • In the season five finale of How I Met Your Mother, Ted remarks to Robin, "Never ending battle? Career's been trouncing romance for years now. It's like the Globetrotters versus the Generals, career's sinking hookshots from half court, romance is just a bunch of slow white guys who couldn't make it in the Italian League." In the season nine episode nine "Platonish," Ted and Marshall attend a Globetrotters versus Generals game. Both wear Generals jerseys.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Lucifer Rising," Dean says to Zachariah, with reference to all but one seal being broken, "That's an impressive score. That's... that's right up there with the Washington Generals."


  1. ^ "The Official Site of the Harlem Globetrotters: FAQ Page". Harlemglobetrotters.com. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  2. ^ "The Official Site of the Harlem Globetrotters: FAQ Page". Harlemglobetrotters.com. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  3. ^ Posnanski, Joe. "Losers' Lament: After decades of defeat, the Washington Generals have lost for the final time". NBC Sports. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  4. ^ Rovell, Darren (August 14, 2015). "After 63 years, Globetrotters drop rival Generals as primary opponent". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  5. ^ The Last Time the Globetrotters Came Up Short, Newsday (New York) February 17, 1991.
  6. ^ a b "Curly Neal says he's an athlete first.", Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), January 7, 1990.
  7. ^ "Showtime in NBA Can Be Traced to Trotters", Sporting News, March 12, 1990.
  8. ^ a b "An Upset That Shook The Globe", Hartford Courant (Connecticut), March 19, 2000.
  9. ^ "Comcast". Mywebpages.comcast.net. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  10. ^ Terranova, Justin (July 12, 2009). "'Mad Dog' Russo's On Air Blowup". New York Post. 
  11. ^ Steinberg, Dan (November 26, 2012). "TNT crew compares Wizards to Generals, again". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 

External links[edit]