Innovators Summit: Harlem Globetrotters Meet Mark Zuckerberg

Great minds meet in Palo Alto, as the men who brought you the four-point shot meet the man who brought you Facebook.

Zuckerberg with Globetrotters


Yesterday, the Harlem Globetrotters trotted over to Palo Alto, where they paid a visit to Mark Zuckerberg at the Facebook headquarters. Globetrotters Curly Neal and Hot Shot Branch regaled Zuckerberg with a Globetrotters jersey featuring his name and the number 4.

Why 4? It’s not that it’s Zuckerberg’s favorite number. Rather, it commemorates a Globetrotters basketball innovation–the first four-point shot. In December, the Globetrotters announced this important innovation to the world in a press release. “The Globetrotters have been at the forefront of basketball’s evolution throughout the sport’s history,” the Globetrotters’ CEO Kurt Schneider (who, we’re guessing, may not be from Harlem) said in a press release. “From the alley-oop to the slam dunk to the behind-the-back pass, the Globetrotters have long brought innovations to basketball that are now staples of the game, and we’re confident the 4-point shot will change the game of basketball going forward.”

On the Globetrotters’ current tour, there’s a four-point spot at each end of the court, which becomes active in the last three minutes of every quarter. The Globetrotters will be hitting up 220 cities in the States and Canada between now and April 17, if you want to check out this innovation live.

“When we heard the crowd roar every time a player swished a basket behind the 3-point line we knew it was something we needed to invest in further. Looking back through highlight reels we noticed game-changing moments of players hitting shots from behind the 3-point line. The 4-point shot allows for closer games and dramatic comebacks,” Schneider tells Fast Company. He adds: “We didn’t realize the symbolism when we started out, but the 2011 season marks the 50th Anniversary of the introduction of the 3-point shot to the American Basketball League by Harlem Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstien, a critical element that has shaped the game of basketball that we know and love today.”


Sports have to be one of the stodgiest and most traditional businesses in America. What innovations do you think are next? Exploding baseballs? Catapults on the football field? Trampoline tennis courts? Share your thoughts.

[Photo: Facebook]

About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.