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'Kings of Harlem' provides unforgettable Sun Devil Athletics senior experience

"Kings of Harlem"

February 10, 2020

Sun Devil Athletics and ASU Gammage presented "Kings of Harlem" at the 2020 Sun Devil Athletics Senior Experience on Feb. 4 at Desert Financial Arena. Traveling from a theater in New York City to Arizona State University, "Kings of Harlem" is inspired by the New York Renaissance, one of the most renowned all-black professional basketball teams of the 1920s and '30s.

Written, choreographed and directed by Layon Gray, the story centers around seven men who overcame adversity to win more than 2,000 games while barnstorming throughout segregated parts of the country in the 1930s despite never being officially accepted professionally or socially. 

The team was formed five years before the Harlem Globetrotters and provided African American men with the opportunity to compete against white athletes equally on the court. The Rens got their name from playing at the Renaissance Casino ballroom in Harlem, New York, where they amazed fans with their innovative and unique style of play.

They toured the country competing against black and white teams, and in the process, compiled the most impressive winning streak in basketball history.

In 1963, the entire team was inducted into the Professional Basketball Hall of Fame.

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