Since 2007, the Harlem Globetrotters have held their own draft in advance of the NBA Draft. They “look at all different kinds of athletes that could have the qualities of a Harlem Globetrotter.”
And so in 2016, an Olympic year, the Globetrotters selected three likely Olympians for their “roster” – swimmer Missy Franklin, golfer Jordan Spieth and Brazilian soccer star Neymar. They also used an honorary pick on sideline reporter Craig Sager, who is battling acute myeloid leukemia but will work his fifth straight Olympics this summer in Rio for NBC. He is the Globetrotters’ first-ever honorary draft pick.
Franklin won four gold medals at the 2012 Olympics and is expected to bring home another medal haul this summer. The Globetrotters liked her height and hand size, saying she “can palm a regulation-size basketball.”
As for Spieth, the squad loved his family’s “strong basketball background” and the fact that his mansion in Dallas includes an indoor basketball court. Spieth is currently the top-ranked American golfer in the IGF’s Olympic rankings.
And Neymar, who helped Brazil to a silver medal at the 2012 Games, was praised for being a “big fan of basketball.” His dribbling skills were noted in a recent Instagram video.
The Globetrotters’ entire 2016 draft class is listed here.
“We also look beyond the court, for those athletes and entertainers that have the qualities of not only being great on the court or the field, but also being a good person off of it. Those are the most important traits that make a true Globetrotter,” said Sweet Lou Dunbar, the Globetrotters’ director of player personnel and coach, in a release.
Previous Globetrotters drafts have also included Olympians. Their 2015 class included U.S. women’s soccer star Alex Morgan, 2012 featured Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, Argentinian soccer legend Lionel Messi highlighted 2011, and Bahamian high jumper Donald Thomas was drafted in 2008.