Harlem Globetrotters icon Fred "Curly" Neal has died at 77 years old. "Distance Shot making and dribbling is back!"
UPDATE: The Harlem Globetrotters pay tribute to Fred "Curly" Neal in the tweet below. Neal toured with the Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985 and appeared in over 6,000 games and more than 95 countries. The exhibition team introduced the sport of basketball to millions of people around the world for the first time.
Neal made it look easy to literally dribble circles around an opposing team. In a 2016 op-ed in USA Today, Neal said the team played an important role in advancing racial progress in the U.S. "We weren't just entertainers". Neal and the Globetrotters were so popular that they were immortalized in the Hanna-Barbera animated series named after them.
Neal was born in Greensboro, N.C., and he graduated from Dudley High School before attending Johnson C. Smith, where he averaged 23 points per game. "Curly's basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide". In 2008, he was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.