Meadowlark Lemon, the longtime 'Clown Prince' of the Harlem Globetrotters, died on Sunday at the age of 83.
Lemon was arguably the best-known of all the Globetrotter personalities as their lead prankster and point guard. He joined the team in 1954 and played with the 'Trotters until 1978.
A native of Wilmington, North Carolina, he displayed an array of tricks and a larger-than-life presence on the court. Lemon also had otherworldly basketball skills, including halfcourt hook shots with astonishing accuracy and dazzling no-look passes well before the Magic Johnson era began in the NBA.
Lemon was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.
"Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I've ever seen," Wilt Chamberlain - another former 'Trotter - said in a 1999 television interview. "People would say it would be Dr. J [Julius Irving] or even [Michael] Jordan. For me, it would be Meadowlark Lemon."
According to the New York Times, Lemon was dismissed from the Globetrotters following a salary dispute.
He created his own version of the 'Trotters with Meadowlark Lemon's Bucketeers, the Shooting Stars and Meadowlark Lemon's Harlem All-Stars. Those teams never enjoyed the global appeal he found with the Globetrotters.
Following his playing career, he founded Meadowlark Lemon Ministries in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he lived at the time of his death.