The Harlem Globetrotters have been a basketball staple since their debut in 1926, touring the country as an exhibition team. Now, they want to become the next NBA team.
In a statement posted to their social media, the team made it known that they’re “ready to negotiate for a franchise.”
“As an organization whose storied history is already tightly interwoven within that of the NBA, the Harlem Globetrotters are looking for a long overdue seat at the table,” the team wrote. “Our players were instrumental in the integration of the league dating back to 1949.”
According to the team’s history, the Globetrotters beat the NBA‘s world champion Minneapolis Lakers twice in 1948 and 1949.
After those victories, Globetrotter Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton became the first Black player to sign with an NBA team after he joined the New York Knicks in 1950.
Less than a decade later, the team had another player make his way to the NBA — Wilt Chamberlain. The Philadelphia native went on to become a four-time NBA MVP, 13-time All-Star and an NBA Hall of Famer.
The Globetrotters also became the first major international sports franchise to be owned by a Black person when former Globetrotter Mannie Jackson purchased the team in 1993.
Since its inception, the team has won more than 27,000 games across 123 countries. The Globetrotters were inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.