Sand Springs Native, Beloved Harlem Globetrotter Dies

Friday, May 22nd 2015, 5:00 pm
By: News On 6

A Sand Springs native whose basketball tricks with the Harlem Globetrotters made the eyes of children light up all over the country has died.

Marques Haynes, 89, was one of Sand Springs' favorite sons. He led Sand Springs' Booker T. Washington High School  to the unofficial national championship in 1941 and was a scholastic All-American that season. He then starred at Langston, an NAIA school where he was a four-time all-conference selection and team MVP.

Haynes made the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, the first Globetrotter to be so honored. He had two stints with the touring team - from 1947-53 and 1972-79, and he even turned down a lucrative NBA contract in between. He was often called the greatest dribbler in basketball history.

He played in more than 12,000 games, traveling more than 4 million miles and appearing in more than 100 countries for a team that combined dazzling skills, theatrical flair and circus antics. He was the Globetrotters' player-coach in 1974-75.

The Globetrotters will dedicate their 90th anniversary tour in 2016 to Haynes and will wear a uniform patch in tribute.

Anthony Douglas, the president of the Oklahoma State Conference NAACP, released a statement on Hayes' death.

"We are saddened to learn of the sudden passing of my best friend and Oklahoma own native Marques Haynes former professional basketball player and member of the Harlem Globetrotters a Civil Rights icon."

After he became famous, Haynes fought to end discrimination in education following the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

James W. Russell, a native Tulsan who became a newspaper reporter in Connecticut, said he attended a 1964 meeting in which the Sand Springs community discussed about integrating students. He recalled his experience later in a story in the Willimantic Chronicle. Toward the end of the meeting, Russell said, Haynes stood up to speak his peace on the subject.

"I am Marques Haynes," the story says Haynes told the school board. "It is true that I have been successful, but that is because I have a very unusual talent. I never wanted to become a basketball player. I was forced to. "When I went to high school, I really wanted to become a printer. But I couldn't because there was no printing program in this school while there was one in the white school. If we want our children to have the most opportunities in life, they have to be able to go to decent schools."

The Associated Press contributed to this report