The legendary Fred “Curly” Neal, face of the Harlem Globetrotters for 22 years, died Thursday morning at age 77.
Neal, with his crazy handles, signature bald head and electric personality, in 2008 became just the fifth Globetrotters player to have his jersey retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon and Goose Tatum. His jersey was raised to the rafters of Madison Square Garden during a special ceremony.
Neal was also given the Globetrotters’ prestigious “Legends” ring in 1998 for making “a major contribution to the success and the development of the Globetrotters organization.
Neal played in over 6,000 games in 97 countries for the barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters, from 1963 to 1985, when the team appeared in numerous televised specials, TV shows talk shows and even cartoons that included Scooby Doo and the team’s own animated series.
The team made the announcement of his death on Twitter: