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Mon, 10.05.1953

The Harlem Magicians Basketball Team, a story

Magician's Poster

*The Harlem Magicians was a basketball organization celebrated on this date in 1953. They were a Black basketball team.

Lon Varnell founded them through his Varnell Enterprises, similar in fashion and activities to the exhibition basketball team, the Harlem Globetrotters. The full name of the barnstorming basketball team was the Fabulous Harlem Magicians, with the main star attraction of the team being Marques Haynes. Haynes was a Globetrotter but had left the team due to a contract dispute to join the Magicians.

Other famous players in the team were Goose Tatum, comic Sam "Boom" Wheeler, Josh Grider, Ron Cavenall, and Bob "Ergie" Erickson (who once stole the ball from Haynes four times in one game). Dempsey Hovland, a founder of 20th Century Booking Agency and owner of several barnstorming teams, was recruited to book the Harlem Magicians' games.

In late 1961, Abe Saperstein of the Harlem Globetrotters filed a lawsuit against Lon Varnell for alleged violation of Harlem Globetrotters' registered trademarks, "Harlem Globetrotters" and "Magicians of Basketball," by promoting their basketball team known as the "Harlem Magicians." In 1964, the parties settled the litigation by entering a consent decree approved by the District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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