As the Harlem Globetrotters were entertaining in Rockford at the BMO Harris Bank Center this past Sunday, the franchise lost one of it's legendary stars.

 

Meadowlark Lemon, the 6-foot-3 spirit of the Harlem Globetrotters who charmed fans worldwide with a basketball acumen matched only by his comedic wit, died Sunday in his Scottsdale, Ariz., home, According to Fox Sports, The New York Times reported early Monday. He was 83.

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Both expert player and entertainer, Lemon was the ringmaster of the team that delighted the world with their court antics. He toured with the Globetrotters, playing more than 16,000 games, including 7,500 consecutively, while performing for heads of states, popes and school children.

I experienced Lemon's jaw-dropping half-court hook shots and infectious humor as a young boy with my dad. His referee taunting and competitive nature as a player while performing tricks was unmatched by anyone then and now. He made Charlies Barkley seem like a puppy when it comes to taunting.

Lemon also made several film and TV appearances (usually as himself), including the basketball comedy "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh," and the TV sitcoms "Diff'rent Strokes" and "Hello, Larry," as well as a Saturday morning cartoon. He was quick with the comebacks, and a natural impromptu character right to the end.

Lemon's wife Cynthia confirmed her husband's death to The Times.

The Globetrotters also confirmed his death and paid tribute to the iconic Lemon on Twitter.

Thanks Meadowlark for the laughs, and the passion. Thank you. The world needs your laughter and humor now more than ever.