The “Clown Prince” of Basketball

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A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22, KJV

Laugh to keep from crying. That’s what George “Meadowlark” Lemon helped us do. I laugh to keep from crying because it really helps. We all need to laugh to keep from crying. That’s what we say sometimes when it gets real bad or real hard or real rough. Life and living is serious enough, so thank God for the Lemons of our life who make us crack up. And that’s why we shouldn’t take life or ourselves too seriously.

And that’s why Meadowlark Lemon was crowned the “Clown Prince” of Basketball. Combining sports with the spiritual principle of good ole fashioned laughter and hilarity and amusement and merriment is a winning duo every time. And Meadowlark Lemon did it better than them all. Along with his running buddy, Curly Neal, these two could play some ball but could also keep you laughing when you hit the wall.

I remember my dad taking my sisters and I to a Globetrotters game at the Spectrum in Philly years ago. It was a total treat. Watching the Globetrotters and Lemon helped us lighten up. Solomon wisely said that “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Amen to that.

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Here’s a short bio from the Harlem Globetrotters website:

During 24 seasons as the “Clown Prince” of the Harlem Globetrotters, Meadowlark Lemon – who passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona on Dec. 27, 2015, at the age of 83 – played in more than 7,500 consecutive games for the red, white, and blue. He played before popes, kings, queens and presidents in nearly 100 countries around the world.

In April 1952, the Globetrotters received a letter from Meadowlark requesting a tryout. He was given a look, and after serving two years in the Army, was signed to a contract. Meadowlark played his first season with one of the Globetrotter developmental teams, the Kansas City Stars. He played his first season full season with the Globetrotters in 1954.

Meadowlark was part of an extremely popular period in Globetrotters history, appearing on several popular television programs and specials, including “ABC’s Wide World of Sports,” “CBS Sports Spectacular,” “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine.” He also appeared in numerous national TV commercials and was immortalized in animation on “The Harlem Globetrotters” cartoon series and on episodes of “Scooby Doo.”
Meadowlark was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, three years after receiving the John W. Bunn Award, named in honor of the Hall of Fame’s first executive director, recognizing outstanding lifetime contributions to basketball.

A native of Wilmington, N.C., Lemon received his Globetrotters “Legends” Ring and had his jersey (#36) retired as part of a 75th Anniversary black tie charity fund-raiser on Jan. 5, 2001, at Chicago’s Fairmont Hotel. Meadowlark spent the last several years of his life as an ordained minister and motivational speaker.

So we honor and remember and respect as we reflect on the life and the legacy of Basketball’s Clown Prince.

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