If you were to head over to Wilt Chamberlain's Wikipedia page, you'd probably expect the primary picture atop the page to be of the legendary center in a Warriors uniform. If not that, then maybe you'd reasonably assume he's wearing a 76ers jersey, or perhaps his Lakers threads from the final part of his career. And in all of those cases, you'd be wrong.
Instead, Chamberlain is pictured kneeling in a very recognizable pose, the basketball sitting on top of his right knee, a sheepish grin on his face. And instead of the uniform of any NBA team, he's donning the striped shorts and starred top of the Harlem Globetrotters, with whom he officially kicked off his professional career from 1958 to 1959 and became a sensation.
However, if you venture over to his Basketball Reference page, you'll find that Chamberlain's career stats begin in 1959-60, with the Philadelphia Warriors, and without any mention of the Globetrotters at all. And why would they be mentioned? Despite the fact that they've been the temporary home for some of basketball's biggest icons and have made a world-renowned impact on the game, they're not a part of the NBA at all.
And they're trying to change that.
In a letter addressed to the NBA on the Globetrotters' official website, the team petitioned Adam Silver and the league's governing body to grant them NBA franchise status.
"It's been a while since our last formal meeting. 72 years to be exact," the letter begins. "But we still remember that day in 1949, when we faced off against your World Champion Lakers. And for the second year in a row, we were victorious.
"Yet, back in the day, that was a rare sight. For much of America, Black players were literally blackballed from playing with and against White players.
"Even though it was us, The Original Harlem Globetrotters, who brought the street game inside. Even though it was the ‘Trotters who popularized the behind the back inside out handle (à la Kyrie), the no look pass (à la LBJ), the dunk (à la The Freak), the fast break (à la Magic), the jump shot from half court (à la Steph) and invented the hook shot from half court (à la No One)."
The letter continues, detailing the Globetrotters' African American players who broke barriers en route to becoming the first Black players in the NBA. It details how the Globetrotters used to help the NBA when they struggled to bring in an audience, collaborating with the high-flying, fun-filled basketball icons to attract crowds. It brings up the fact that while the NBA's "global" presence has brought games to 17 countries, Harlem has displayed their product in 122.
And to cap off their message, the letter discusses how the Globetrotters feel neglected by the NBA in the league's quest to grow into a multi-billion-dollar industry.
"So, if you really believe what you've been saying about social justice, going back to “normal” needs to look different," the letter reads. "You can't just act like we don't exist anymore. It's time to right the wrongs and rewrite history. It's time for the NBA to honor what the Globetrotters have done for OUR sport, both here in the U.S. and around the globe.
"Based on what we've already proven, we can field a team of talent on par with the pros of today, and we want the chance to do that. As a world renowned and legendary professional basketball team, we petition Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA governors and the powers that be to grant The Original Harlem Globetrotters an NBA franchise. Not now, but right now!"