Curly Neal Death, Globetrotters
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File

Fred ?Curly? Neal, the dribbling wizard who entertained millions with the Harlem Globetrotters for parts of three decades, has died. He was 77.

The Globetrotters said Neal died in his home outside of 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 in a statement on Twitter. ?Curly?s basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide.?

Harlem Globetrotters’ Curly Neal Dies at 77

Neal played for the Globetrotters from 1963-85, appearing in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries for the exhibition team known for its combination of comedy and athleticism. He became one of five Globetrotters to have his jersey retired when his No. 22 was lifted to the rafters during a special ceremony at Madison Square Garden in 2008.

Neal was a crowd favorite with his trademark shaved head, infectious smile and ability to dribble circles around would-be defenders. He was a key player during the Globetrotters’ most popular era in the ?70s and ?80s, appearing on TV shows and specials like ?The Ed Sullivan Show,? ?Love Boat? and “Gilligan’s Island.”

Neal and the Globetrotters also appeared in numerous TV commercials, episodes of ?Scooby-Doo? and had their own cartoon series.


Curly Neal’s Highlights

Neal was a star high school player in Greensboro, North Carolina, and led Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association title after averaging 23 points per game as a senior. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in a 2008 class that included North Carolina coach Roy Williams.


Neal also was inducted into the Globetrotters’ Legends ring in 1993 and continued to make appearances for them as an ?Ambassador of Goodwill.?

MORE: Globetrotters Break 5 World Records, Including Longest Backflip Shot

Author placeholder image About the author:
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Our teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. We provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
View More Articles

Stories You Might Like