Thursday, April 28, 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016
An open letter to "Steph" Curry of the Golden State Warriors from Jimal Mack the Great Grandson of Dr. "Jumpin' Johnny" Kline:
Dear Mr. Curry,
I write on behalf of my great grandfather, Dr. John Kline, who is the oldest living Harlem Globetrotter at age 85. There are so many parallels between you and him that I felt compelled to pen you a short note that hopefully will be of interest and concern. In his day, Jumpin' Johnny (as he was called) was, like you, the best player on the best professional basketball team of his era: the Harlem Globetrotters. Like your team today, they would never lose. In fact, that is the title of his autobiography, Never Lose, now in its third printing.
I wish that never losing had been the case for my great grandpa when he tried out for the Detroit Pistons in 1957.
Despite excelling, particularly in tandem with their best player, George Yardley, who went on that year to become the first NBA player to eclipse 2,000 points, Jumpin' Johnny was cut from the squad before the regular season opened. His coach, Charlie Eckman, had a difficult time telling him, as my great grandfather well recalls, and even said that if it were his decision-- and not the front office's-- he would have signed him on.
As a result, he was deprived of a handsome living and today receives no pension from the NBA.
Rather than seek some measure of "reparations", Dr. John recently sought employment once again at his golden age with the league as an historian-at-large and roving ambassador of the sport. Again, he was declined by the NBA and offered, instead, token concessions that had more to do with recognition-- he is already an honorary member of the Hall of Fame-- than they did with meaningful restitution of lost income and pension.
In conclusion, I write to you to see if you might conceive of a creative way toward righting the injustice in the same manner as your imaginative play on the hard court.
As my great grandfather often says: there might be a statute of limitations regarding legal recourse, but there is no statute of limitations when it comes to human decency.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
by Darlene House
After decades of earning distinction both on and off the basketball court, Dr. John L. “Jumpin’ Johnny” Kline could just rest on his laurels. The All-American and oldest living Harlem Globetrotter player is a living legend destined for more than days in a rocking chair reflecting on his past. Kline pledged to focus on securing a brighter future for other African-American professional basketball pioneers.
“The NBA would not be what it is today without the contributions of these outstanding athletes,” Kline explained. These individuals are not household names although perhaps they would be if it were not for an unwritten policy.
“The ‘two-fer’ system was practiced by a lot of white owners in the 1950s to 1960s who didn’t want to have a lot of African-Americans playing for them,” Kline explained. “It controlled the flow of African-Americans into major sports where the owners felt minorities could or would not be willing to buy large quantities of tickets.” Kline experienced the impact of this prejudice-linked policy when he tried out for the Detroit Pistons.
There are five other living African-American basketball pioneers dealing with consequences of “two-fer” policy implementation. Those seasoned athletes and the teams that turned them away are Ernie Wagner-Milwaukee Bucks, Carl Green-Philadelphia Warriors, Herman Taylor-Baltimore Bullets plus George Brown and Bob Williams-Minneapolis Lakers. They represent what Kline calls the “Soul of Basketball” featuring an all-inclusive history of the game spotlighting its often forgotten pioneers. Including himself, Kline calls them all “The Legends Six”.
“Some of the players who were my contemporaries are struggling to survive,” Kline shared. They don’t have pensions or the means to pay for their medical expenses much less keep up with the cost of living increases. As the Black Legends of Professional Basketball Founder and President, Kline has kept in touch with and offered support for needy players. He has literally kept some of them from being homeless.
It has been said that noteworthy men are often appreciated more away from their homeland. Harlem Globetrotters acted as “Goodwill Ambassadors” traveling near and far in support of domestic affairs and international diplomacy before NBA gained fame abroad. Like Negro Baseball League players, African-American basketball pioneers during the Barnstormin’ period experienced severe discrimination and prejudice with minimal pay and opportunities for improvement. “Barnstormin’ offered a way for struggling players to make extra dollars,” Kline explained.
Kline realizes he can’t correct past wrongs and change the world all by himself. He is seeking assistance from the NBA, corporations, organizations and individuals. One way to help is make a 100 percent tax deductible donation to Black Legends of Professional Basketball Foundation for “Soul of Basketball” players in need of assistance.
Other “Soul of Basketball” support options include hosting a traveling exhibit spotlighting African-American professional basketball from 1900 to 1950 and purchasing related Barnstormin’ merchandise including caps and shirts. Kline is available to continue his tradition of working hard for money by being a keynoter/Q & A session facilitator. Kline can also share insights about sure-fire lessons of his innovative Power Living Lifestyle program. For additional information, visit blacklegends.org or call 615.457.3418.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Maybe you've never heard of me, Tiger, but odds are pretty good that your dad knew of me and would see the parallels between us now. You were-- flat-out-- the BEST in your sport and I arguably was the BEST in mine: Basketball. It's been said that I was the prototype of today's "power forward", the most valuable player on my era's best pro team. I was a scorer, playmaker and a rebounder who could leap like, well, a tiger! I had Game, like you, and I lost it over reckless behavior and shameless disrespect for my athletic body and artful soul. It pained me when I saw you drop out of this year's Masters for reasons real and imagined. It pained me because Golf has been the Love of your Life like Basketball was mine. (I know the ladies don't like to hear it but it's truer than Tuesday and Taxes-- sooner than later they both get here.) I turned my life around and, make no mistake, YOU can, too, to restore your game to its grand majesty. But to do it, I urge you to spend one week with me at a venue of your own choosing. You see, I've invented a program I call THE POWER OF POSITIVE LIVING. I've written a book about it but I would prefer to tell you about it first-hand, man to man. It has to do with nutrition, maturation and saturation of the principles required in recapturing belief in yourself. It also has to do with the visualization of the future of your own well-being. Once you got Game you never really lose it. It just needs a little overhaul and you're back on track to Glory. Believe me. Have your caddy call me and I'll have my Caddy-- Cadillac, that is-- sent over to to pick you up.
Dr. Jumpin' Johnny Kline, Ph.D.
Dr. Jumpin' Johnny Kline, Ph.D.