Meadowlark Lemon, a legendary basketball player who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 and played for the Harlem Globetrotters from 1954-78, died at the age of 83 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Sunday.
His passing was confirmed by his wife to the New York Times.
One of only five Globetrotters to have his jersey retired by the basketball team, Lemon was an entertainer and "showman"—affectionately known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball"—while playing for the world famous squad. His website claims he played 16,000 games during his career.
The Times' obituary described him as a "gifted athlete with an entertainer’s hunger for the spotlight" and one of the most famous and beloved Globetrotters in the team's storied history. Lemon was well known for expertly pulling off the bucket full of confetti gag.
Lemon was a slick ballhandler and a virtuoso passer, and he specialized in the long-distance hook, a trick shot he made with remarkable regularity. But it was his charisma and comic bravado that made him perhaps the most famous Globetrotter. For 22 years, until he left the team in 1978, Lemon was the Trotters’ ringmaster, directing their basketball circus from the pivot. He imitated Tatum’s reams, like spying on the opposition’s huddle, and added his own.
The team and many of Lemon's admirers offered memories and sympathies on Twitter.
The Great Meadowlark Lemon of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters dies at 83. Rest In Basketball Heaven Sir! pic.twitter.com/X8BXKLxiV9— SHAQ (@SHAQ) December 28, 2015
I wanted to meet Meadowlark Lemon this summer at an event, so glad Tori volunteered me to play PIG with him. RIP! pic.twitter.com/3iaQeXBja2— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) December 28, 2015
RIP Meadowlark Lemon your friendship,knowledge and wisdom will be missed my friend.— Isiah Thomas (@iamisiahthomas) December 28, 2015
Crushed to hear the news that my dear friend Meadowlark Lemon has passed away. Just w/ him in Sept and laughed the entire time.#ripmeadow— Nancy Lieberman (@NancyLieberman) December 28, 2015
RIP Meadowlark Lemon. As magical a basketball player as I ever saw live. So often I wondered, "How did he DO that?"— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) December 28, 2015
RIP Meadowlark Lemon wow— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) December 28, 2015
I mourn the passing of my childhood hero Meadowlark Lemon. As a cartoon, when paired with Scooby Doo and solving crimes, he was transcendent— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) December 28, 2015
“Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I’ve ever seen.” - WILT (circa 1999) https://t.co/zBLbPiO3Lk— NBA History (@NBAHistory) December 28, 2015
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