Legendary Harlem Globetrotter Marques Haynes – considered by many to be the greatest basketball dribbler of all-time – died of natural causes last week in Plano, Texas, at the age of 89. He passed away peacefully with family and friends in his presence.
In a four-decade career, Haynes played in more than 12,000 games, traveled more than four million miles and entertained fans in nearly 100 countries during two stints with the Globetrotters (1947-53, 1972-79).
“The game of basketball has lost one of its most iconic figures,” said Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider. “Marques was a pioneer, helping pave the way for people of all races to have opportunities to play basketball and for the sport to explode on a global scale. His unique and groundbreaking style of play set the tone for modern basketball as we know it; anyone involved with basketball worldwide is indebted to Marques. He was the consummate Globetrotter. “We will be dedicating our upcoming 90th anniversary tour in 2016 to Marques, and the team will wear a commemorative patch on our uniforms to salute the significant contributions he made to basketball and the Globetrotters.”
Haynes caught the attention of Harlem Globetrotters owner Abe Saperstein in 1946 during a game in which Langston defeated the Globetrotters, 74-70. Following graduation, Haynes joined the Globetrotters and starred for the team when it defeated the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers in 1948 (61-59) and in 1949 (49-45).
In 1998, Haynes became the first player ever to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a Globetrotter. He has been enshrined into a total of six Halls of Fame, including NAIA (1985), Jim Thorpe (1993) and Langston University (1995). On Dec. 8, 2007, Langston University honored Haynes by dedicating its basketball court as “Marques Haynes Court.”
Haynes received a Globetrotters “Legends” Ring and had his jersey (No. 20) retired as part of a 75th Anniversary black-tie charity fund-raiser on Jan. 5, 2001, at Chicago’s Fairmont Hotel. Only five Globetrotters jersey numbers have been retired in the team’s history.
Haynes’ basketball career began at Booker T. Washington High School near his hometown of Sand Springs, where he led the school to a high school national championship in 1941 and was named a Second Team Scholastic All-America that season. Haynes then starred collegiately at Langston University in Langston (1942-46), where he was a four-time all-conference selection and team MVP. Haynes led Langston in scoring all four years and guided the team to a 112-3 record, a mark that included a 59-game winning streak.