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Tricksters in the Madhouse

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The pivotal meeting between the all-white Minneapolis Lakers and the Harlem Globetrotters, at the centre of black basketball

Table of Contents

I. First Quarter1. The Race2. Ma Piersall3. The Kangaroo Kid4. Babe5. Goose6. Ermer7. The Fastest Runner on Sixty-first StreetII. Second Quarter8. Blackie9. The King of Basketball10. The Crisco Kid11. Olson's Terrible Swedes12. SamboIII. Halftime13. Johnny and AbeIV. Third Quarter14. Bucky15. Pop16. MarquesV. Fourth Quarter17. Ted18. The Wee Ice Mon19. David and Goliath20. The Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost21. The Shot22. SweetwaterVI. Overtime23. Shaq24. RigoNotesSources and Acknowledgments

About the Author

John Christgau is a lecturer at Saint Mary's College of California and the author of many books, including The Origins of the Jumpshot: Eight Men Who Shook the World of Basketball(Nebraska 1998).


In 1948 there were two struggling professional basketball leagues in the United States. Both the National Basketball League and the Basketball Association of America were open only to white players even after they merged to form the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1949. The best team in either circuit was the Minneapolis Lakers, precursor to the LA Lakers, who would win six championships in eight years. Although best known for their clowning around, Abe Saperstein's independent Harlem Globetrotters were the best black team in the nation. Lakers owner Max Winter and his friend Saperstein agreed that the teams would meet in February 1948 in Chicago Stadium. This book provides a play-by-play recounting of that racially charged confrontation in segregated postwar America. Profiles of the players and specifics of events surrounding the game are interspersed with a play-by-play rendering to provide context for the game action. It is impressive that Christgau (The Origins of the Jumpshot) was able to piece together such a detailed account of the game (with some inconsistencies), but the most interesting parts of the book are those outside the game. Recommended for any library.-John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"A fascinating look at a chapter of Chicago sports lore ... an incredible game at the Stadium between the Minneapolis Lakers and the Globetrotters, deadly serious for once, for what might have been the unofficial world championship back in the days before pro basketball allowed black players in its ranks." Ron Rapoport, Chicago Sun-Times

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