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Harlem Globetrotter Fred “Curly” Neal Dead At 77

Legends & Icons

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The legendary Fred “Curly” Neal, of the Harlem Globetrotters has died at 77. In his athletic prime the star played a whoppping 6,000 games. The team remembers him as “one of the truly magical dribblers and shooters in basketball history.”

The Globetrotters said in a statement that Neal, who played with the team from 1963 to 1985, died at home in Houston on Thursday morning.

“We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known,” Globetrotters General Manager Jeff Munn said.

The team notes that because Neal and the team were playing before the advent of cable television and traveled so widely, they introduced huge numbers of people to pro basketball for the first time. “It was Curly’s magical ball-handling, shooting, charismatic smile and iconic bald head in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries, that made them start to play and fall in love with the game,” the Globetrotters said.

Neal made it look easy to literally dribble circles around an opposing team. Take a look at him in action, including several jaw-dropping baskets made from approximately half-court:

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