Harlem Globetrotters legend Fred “Curly” Neal dies at age 77

Photo: Greensboro Daily Photo

Harlem Globetrotters legend Fred “Curly” Neal passed away on March 26 in his home outside of Houston at the age of 77.

Neal has reportedly been fighting a stroke in recent years.

“We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known,” said Globetrotters General Manager Jeff Munn. “Curly’s basketball skill was unrivaled by most and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide.”

Neal played in over 6,000 games in 97 countries from 1963-1985.

The Globetrotters retired his No. 22 jersey in 2008.

Neal was the fifth person at the time to receive that honor, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon and Goose Tatum.

Neal was known for his bald head, smile and fancy ballhandling skills.

“For those who say the game has evolved? I say what’s old is new again!” Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas tweeted after the news of Neal’s passing. “Distance Shot making and dribbling is back!! #CurlyNeal and #MarcusHaynes taught me how to dribble.”

ESPN’s Mike Greenberg also tweeted about his memories of going to see the Globetrotters because of Neal:

Here is a brief highlight reel of Neal: