Curley Neil, Globetrotters’ shiny dribbler, dies at 77
Fred “Curley” Neal, whose dribbling wizardry made him one of the most famous members of the beloved Harlem Globetrotters traveling the basketball team, died Thursday at his home near Houston. He was 77.
The team announced the death but did not provide any other details.
Joining the eponymous “Curly” Globetrotters in a witty nod in his shaved head, Neil played more than 6,000 exhibition games for the Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985, most of them against the Washington Generals, their helpless faces.
One of the most awaited elements of the Globetrotters’ routines, Neil dragged across the court, often slipping to his knees, never losing control of the ball, no matter how little he himself. He would then bounce the ball through the legs of a spreading defender near the free-throw line and dribble into an uncontested layup to end the move.
In 1988, Nancy Lieberman, who played for the Generals against the Globetrotters, said, “Oh, my gosh, they revolutionized ball handling.” “Whatever you are seeing Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry doing now, it all started with Trotters. Trotters made Dribbling a show. “
Neil’s ingenuity established him as one of the team’s biggest stars, as well as being liked Medovalark Lemon And Hubert “Geese” Ausby, and helped the Globetrotters’ travel show become a regular feature in ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” era when the National Basketball Association did not have a strong national television presence as it now does.
At the height of the Globetrotters’ popularity in the 1970s, with Neil’s supreme ball-handling skills and long-range shooting as the main attraction, he inspired several animated TV series in 1972, including “Scooby-Doo Meets the Harlem Globetrackers” did.
He also played some of his basketball tricks on “The Ed Sullivan Show”, always with strains of his trademark song “Sweet Georgia Brown”. And he portrayed himself in television shows like “The White Shadow” and “Love Boat”, and in a made-for-television “Gilligan’s Islands” movie.
“His basketball skills were unmatched for the most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families around the world,” Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement on Thursday. “He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions.”
Frederick Neil was born on May 19, 1942 in Greensboro, NC. , And Johnson C. in Charlotte. Smith played in the collegium at the university, where he averaged 23 points per game as a senior to earn All-Central Collegiate Athletic Association honors. Future nba Stars like Lou Hudson and Al Attles were contemporaries from high school and college, but Neil was not drafted by an NBB. Struggled for jobs in teams and professionals.
“What I really wanted to do,” he told The New York Times in 1983.
But an offer soon joined the Globetrotters, and Neil eventually succeeded Marquez Hayne Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 as a ball-handling sensation of the Globbrotters.
Neil and Haynes taught me how to dribble, Isma Thomas, the former All-Star guard who gave the Detroit Pistons back-to-back N.B.A. Championships in 1989 and 1990, said on Twitter on Thursday.
“I was blessed that he was close with Curly and Markes Haynes,” Lieberman said. “Learned from curly people and took it to a completely different level.”
The Globetrotters retired Neil’s No. 22 in 2008 in a ceremony at Madison Square Garden – the only four other players in team history to be honored: Wilt Chamberlain (13), Reece “Goose” Tatum (50), Haynes (20 ) And lemon (36). After playing for a long time, he continued to work as a Globetrotters Ambassador.
However, Neil recalled a very humble beginning to his Globetrotters career in his interview with The Times in 1983, saying: “I received a questionnaire letter as a free agent. I would have to pay my way to camp. The Globetrotters Sent me a plane ticket and gave me room and board. “
Another challenge, he said, was learning how to throw buckets of the famous blanket as part of a traveling basketball troupe to entertain fans – or water – at sitting fans.
Neil said, & # 39; & # 39; I knew nothing about being funny.
Information about his survival was not immediately available.
In an interview with bullz-eye.com In 2008, Neil revealed that he actually started shaving his head at the age of 12 – before he could find his nickname.
“The kids in the neighborhood, we decided to do something naughty,” Neil said. “My mother didn’t like it at first. She said,” What happened to you? “And I said,” I went to sleep in the barber’s chair. “
Neil stuck with that look throughout his high school and college career. He said that it was Globetrotters coach Bobby Milton when Neil arrived, who decided, “We’re going to call you curly.”