It's that time of year again -- March Madness is just around the corner and the science of Bracketology will once more take precedence over such mundane disciplines as cancer research or a cure for restless leg syndrome. A key question, of course, is who will follow in the footsteps of Valpariso or Dayton or George Mason. Another Cinderella is surely on the horizon...
Which brings me to perhaps the biggest basketball upset since 1971. To be more precise, the date was January 5, 1971. The place was Martin, Tennessee. The winning shot just before the buzzer was made by a diminutive five foot seven inch guard named Klotz. The final score was 100-99. The victorious team broke what is surely the longest continuous, unbroken winning streak in history -- a staggering 2,499 games -- and they have not won since.
The losers? None other than the Harlem Globetrotters.
The winners? The Washington Generals, a team formed in 1952, by none other than Louis "Red" Klotz after Globtrotters' owner Abe Saperstein invited him to assemble a worthy adversary to accompany his team on their worldwide tours. Over the ensuing decades, Klotz has served as owner, player and coach for this team named in honor of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Unlike Ike, however, Klotz was once labeled by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED "The General Whose Army Never Wins."
(Indisputable proof that the Generals are "hexed")
Actually, Klotz's teams have won a total of six games against the Globetrotters, but with a winning percentage of .0000769 Klotz will never challenge Coack K. or Pat Summit for hardwood glory. But who else has lost games in front of popes, kings, queens, Kruschev or the Shah of Iran? Who else has endured losing a basketball game on aircraft carriers, in bullrings, on soccer fields, in prisons, in South Dakota, in the deep end of a large swimming pool or in a leper colony? And they say Cameron Arena is a tough place to play...
Samuel Beckett once exhorted: "Fail better."
With losses in over 100 countries and literally thousands of cities, towns and villages in North America, Louis "Red" Klotz continues to do exactly that.