Before we get to our summit hike to Mount Greylock, we drive through Springfield, Massachusetts, home of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Lisa and I try to name all the professional basketball players we can think of. Lisa names many, many more than I do.
“Oh yeah?” I challenge her, trying to save face. “Then tell me who Bunny Levitt was!”
Ha! I win.
You may know that all the players on the Harlem Globetrotters are, and have always been, tall black men, with the exception throughout history of two women and three white guys. Bunny Levitt was one of the white guys.
Harold “Bunny” Levitt was recruited by general manager Abe Saperstein, not to play on the team so much as to provide quarter-time entertainment. The Globetrotters offered a $1000 prize to anyone who could beat Bunny in a free throw contest. No one ever collected the prize. In fact, to this day, Levitt holds the world record for sinking consecutive free throws. In 1935, tossing the ball underhand, he sank 499 in a row. He missed one, then threw 371 more. He stopped there because they closed the gym. He was twenty years old at the time.
Bunny’s mom gave him the nickname when he was a kid because he was “small and quick, like a bunny rabbit.”
Bunny is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is what started this conversation in the first place.
Bunny Levitt was five feet, four inches tall.