Legendary Harlem Globetrotter dribbler, Hall of Famer Marques Haynes passes away at 89

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There was a time in the 1940s and ’50s when the Harlem Globetrotters were the biggest attraction in basketball — and maybe the best team. The all-black Globetrotters beat the all-white Lakers lead by George Mikan in both 1948 and 1949.

One of the big stars of those Globetrotters? Marques Haynes and his dribbling exploits. Here’s why:

Haynes passed away due to natural causes Saturday morning at his home in Plano, Texas, the team announced. He was 89.

“The game of basketball has lost one of its most iconic figures,” Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said in a released statement. “Marques was a pioneer, helping pave the way for people of all races to have opportunities to play basketball and for the sport to explode on a global scale. His unique and groundbreaking style of play set the tone for modern basketball as we know it; anyone involved with basketball worldwide is indebted to Marques. He was the consummate Globetrotter.”

The team will be dedicating its upcoming tour to Haynes.

Haynes was invited to join the Globetrotters after his ball handling and scoring led his Langston University squad to a win over the Globetrotters.

He spent parts of decades with the team (there were times he broke off over financial matters) where he was the ultimate showman and dribbler, certainly one of the greatest ball handlers of all time. That earned him the honor of being the first Globetrotter ever inducted into the Hall of Fame as such.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.