HARLEM WIZARDS HISTORY
When Goose Tatum, the greatest basketball Showman ever, wanted to do a tour in New York and called Howie Davis to book it and promote it, Davis jumped at the chance. The Tour was a big success as Goose and his team known as the Harlem Stars took on the College All-Stars at various locations in New York's five boroughs. When Goose hung up his sneakers, Howie wanted to create a new team to fill the demand and fulfill the opportunity he saw during the Goose tour. In 1962 -- three years after the Goose tour with the Harlem Stars -- the Harlem Wizards were born.
In the 52 years since, the Harlem Wizards have raised millions of dollars for schools, nonprofits and charities with their fundraising games, played against local teachers, in communities across the United States. They have toured the world, visiting 25 countries, and have forged a rich basketball legacy. The Wizards international play began in the late 1960's on a USO Tour of Japan, the Philippines and Korea. Hawthorne Wingo, who would eventually play 4 years with the Knicks, was on the tour.
In the 1970's Howie Davis signed Connie Hawkins, one of the 50 greatest players ever to play in the NBA. He spent a year with the Wizards, bringing his basketball talents to Harlem and throughout the USA. Marques Haynes, another Hall of Famer, spent two years with the Wizards. In the 1980's Tiny Archibald -- another top 50 NBA star -- joined the Wizards on a tour of Belgium. Nancy Lieberman, a hall of famer and WNBA star and college player of the year, spent a season with the Wizards. Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor even played a series of games.
More than 25 NBA players have played with the Wizards. While most of the Wizards games have been for fun and not entirely competitive, there have been quite a few exciting match ups that didn't always result in victory. The Wizards estimated record is 7,900 wins and 21 losses.
Through the years, many interesting things have happened. One summer the Wizards played 75 games at summer camps throughout the northeast. As a teenager Kobe Bryant and his dad and NBA player Jellybean played against the Wizards at a summer camp. The Wizards played the inmates at maximum security Attica Prison, and earned a standing ovation with their play and performance. Donn Clendenon played with the Wizards after winning the World Series MVP for the Mets in 1969. The Wizards toured against the Jets after the 1969 Super Bowl and eventually Jets players Randy Beverly and Earl Christy joined the team. After the 1986 Giants Super Bowl victory, they also toured with the Wizards.
In the 70's and 80's the Wizards took South America by storm drawing crowds exceeding 12,000 in Brazil and Venezuela. In 1979, the Wizards played in front of 18,000 fans in Tel-Aviv as part of an Israel Independence day celebration.
In the last 12 years the Wizards have toured China more than 10 times. Recently they performed on the most popular teen TV show in the country, the Dream Show. On another tour, an estimated 50 million saw a news report that referred to the Wizards' court wizardry as equivalent to Brazil's soccer magic.
Since 1962, the Harlem Wizards have been making history with the happiness, fun, goodwill and excitement they bring. The Harlem Wizards perform for schools, charities, colleges, corporations, communities and private events. Millions of dollars have been raised for non-profit community organizations and charities, while providing amazing high flying and hilarious basketball entertainment for fans of all ages to enjoy.
We had to turn people away, the response from the community was amazing. Young kids, high school kids, parents, teachers and toddlers alike were delighted with the entertainment you provided."
Student Activities Director
Sanborn Regional HS