Louis “Red” Klotz, the mastermind behind several of the teams that perennially lost to the Harlem Globetrotters, died at 93 after more than 60 years working with the famed team of basketball showmen.
Klotz passed away in his sleep overnight on July 13 at his New Jersey home surrounded by Gloria, his wife of seventy two years, and his family.
The basketball entrepreneur may not be a household name, but he had a long career in the sport that began with a championship team in high school. After high school he earned a basketball scholarship at Villanova University and went on to play professionally for one season with the Baltimore Bullets in 1947-48.
But it was his post-playing career in basketball for which he will be most remembered.
Klotz first joined forces with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1952 and was the mastermind behind several of the teams that traveled with the Globetrotters, teams that lost nearly every game.
“Red” helped form the always bedraggled Washington Generals but he also raised the Boston Shamrocks, New Jersey Reds, New York Nationals, International Elite, Global Select, and World All-Stars, all of which faced–and lost–to the Globetrotters.
Before he was done, though, Klotz had one more moment in the sun as a player. It was Klotz who made the game-wining basket that handed the Harlem Globetrotters their last loss to the Washington Generals. The January 5, 1971 game ended in a score of 100 to 99. At the time Klotz was 50-years-old and serving as the Generals’ player/coach.
In 2011 Klotz became the first non-Globetrotter to have his jersey retired by the team. He joined Curly Neal (No. 22), Goose Tatum (No. 50), Marques Haynes (No. 20), Meadowlark Lemon (No. 36), and Wilt Chamberlain (No. 13)–all of whom earned the honor.
Klotz was hailed by the Globetrotters as one of their most important ambassadors.
“The Harlem Globetrotters organization is extremely saddened by the passing of Red Klotz, and our deepest sympathies go out to his entire family,” Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said in a statement reported by ESPN. “Red was truly an ambassador of the sport and as much a part of the Globetrotters’ legacy as anyone ever associated with the organization.
“He was a vital part of helping the Globetrotters bring smiles and introduce the game of basketball to fans worldwide. He was a legend and a global treasure. His love of the game–and his love of people–will certainly be missed,” Schneider concluded.
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