The Harlem Globetrotters announced today that each of their players will wear special No. 44 jerseys during their games on Tuesday, Jan. 20, to honor the incoming President-elect – and noted basketball fan – Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, on his inauguration day in Washington, D.C.
Every Globetrotter player will wear the team’s iconic red, white and blue jerseys, all bearing the number 44, during the team's tour stops in Reno, Nev., and Terre Haute, Ind., to honor the historic occasion of the first African-American presidency in the nation's history.
“This inauguration marks a landmark moment in our nation’s cultural history, and we felt compelled to honor the historic occasion in our own small way,” said Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider. “As global ambassadors of goodwill for more than eight decades, the Globetrotters have been first-hand witnesses to the power that basketball possesses in its ability to bridge cultures and break down barriers, and the President-elect seems to understand this as much as any Chief Executive this nation has ever had.”
Obama himself has noted the impact the Globetrotters had on breaking down cultural barriers, both in his native Hawaii and throughout the world, during interviews he conducted as an Illinois senator that were featured in the Globetrotters documentary, The Team That Changed The World (log on to the team’s official Web site: www.harlemglobetrotters.com for video excerpts from those interviews).
Today’s announcement comes less than a month after the Globetrotters created "official" red, white and blue “Inaugural Balls” — basketballs, that is — courtesy of their official ball supplier, Spalding, that were sent to Obama and his family during the holidays in advance of his historic inauguration. As part of their gift to the President-elect, the Globetrotters will also be donating 50 brand new game balls from Spalding to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, D.C., in the new year.