Published: Fri, March 27, 2020
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Harlem Globetrotters Legend Fred 'Curly' Neal Dead At 77

Harlem Globetrotters Legend Fred 'Curly' Neal Dead At 77

While details are not widely available, the news is spreading that basketball legend Fred "Curly" Neal has died at the age of 77. Neal died at his Houston, Texas home. Neal spent 22 years with the Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985, and he appeared in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries with the group. "His basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide", said the team's general manager.

Harlem Globetrotters' Fred "Curly" Neal, shown here during a 1975 game, was known as a master dribbler. Neal was a member of the popular Harlem Globetrotters troupe and one of its most recognizable members.

Nicknamed "Curly" after the similarly head-shaven member of the Three Stooges, the limber-limbed Neal served as the team's point guard, ball-handling magician, long-distance-shooting extraordinaire and face of the franchise for more than two decades.

Neal and the Globetrotters also appeared in numerous TV commercials, episodes of "Scooby-Doo" and had their own cartoon series.

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Neal made it look easy to literally dribble circles around an opposing team.

When the Globetrotters retired Neal's No. 22, he joined Wilt Chamberlain (13), Meadowlark Lemon (36), Marques Haynes (20) and Goose Tatum (50). "We weren't just entertainers".

Born in Greensboro, N.C., Neal was a star college basketball player at Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte, earning all-Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association honors. That same year, he was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

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