We mourn the loss of pioneering basketball player Marques Haynes, a star with the Harlem Globe Trotters professional barnstorming team and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, who died on Friday morning at age 89.
Haynes played with the ‘Trotters during the late 1940s and early 1950s, and again during the 1970s. In between those stints he formed his own barnstorming basketball team, along with Goose Tatum, called the Harlem Magicians. He was known for his exceptional dribbling skill, which he used primarily to play “keep away” from opponents, sometimes going one-on-five without needing to pass the ball.
Though many are familiar with his basketball expertise as well as his game-related contributions, achievements, accolades, and experiences, few people know that he was a promotions representative for Converse, the athletic shoe company, during its heyday.
I met Mr. Haynes in that context, and it was a real honor. This was at a Converse sales meeting in 2007, which kicked off the celebration of the sneaker firm’s 100th anniversary in 2008. We had a chance to chat during one particular event, an evening of fun that included a re-enactment of a vintage basketball game inside a cage accompanied by music from a live jazz orchestra and a performance by the hip hop artist Common.
A man who loved to tell stories, Mr. Haynes shared with me that in his role at Converse, he and Chuck Taylor, the company’s evangelical salesperson and the namesake of their iconic sneaker, used to criss-cross the country in Chuck’s convertible Cadillac, with boxes of shoes in the trunk as well as golf clubs for recreational stops along the way.
From that encounter, I gathered that Mr. Haynes was a funny, lucid, energetic man who liked to laugh, seemed to enjoy life, and was proud of his experiences. There is so much more to Mr. Haynes, of course. But that one story was the time that I had a personal connection with the man that I will always remember.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Haynes.
That time at a #Converse sales meeting in #2008 when #BlackFives Foundation exec director @ClaudeJohnson got to spend some time with legendary #Harlem #Globetrotters superstar #MarquesHaynes, who shared stories of him and #ChuckTaylor driving across 1940s #America in a convertible #Cadillac with a trunk full of #basketball shoes. #memorable #honor #tbt
— Black Fives (@BlackFives) May 23, 2015