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February 5, 2004

UH alum puts a spin on life after Cougar basketball

By Mike Emery
Staff writer

There’s no slowing down “Sweet” Lou Dunbar.

The Cougar hoops legend and Harlem Globetrotter assistant coach is always on the move. A busy schedule keeps the former University of Houston All-American on the road constantly.

“Nobody travels like the Globetrotters,” he said. “In fact, I’m driving as we speak.”

Dunbar still resides in the Houston area, but his commitment to the clown princes of basketball keeps him moving. When Dunbar joined the team in 1977, the Globetrotters were on the road nine months out of the year.

Traveling was a treat for Dunbar, who was raised in the small town of Minden, La. While he and the Globetrotters have been around the world, it was his time at UH that prepared him for life outside Louisiana.

“The campus was bigger than my hometown,” he said. “I was impressed with UH when I was being recruited to play. The thing I loved most was Hofheinz Pavilion. I loved that place, and I loved to play there.”

Dunbar played for the Cougars from 1972 – 1975. He still holds the record for single-game shooting percentage, hitting 14 of 15 shots against Rice University.

When Dunbar left UH, he played briefly for the Indiana Pacers when the team was part of the now-defunct American Basketball Association (ABA). He then made his way to Switzerland to play professional basketball in Europe but returned to Houston to play with the Rockets. During summer warm-ups, Dunbar caught the eye of Globetrotter scouts, who quickly signed him.

“I was young and I was ready to play,” he said. “That was in 1977. I was able to play with legends like Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal. My first year, I’d make the first dunk of the game, but then get put on the bench to learn from the older guys.”

Dunbar entertained fans not only at arenas and stadiums, but on television. In 1979, his image — but not voice — was used for the Saturday morning animated series, “Super Globetrotters.” On the show, Dunbar had a super hero identity as Gizmo Man, a costumed do-gooder armed with a gadget-filled Afro.

“I never saw it,” laughed Dunbar. “I was never up that early.”

Dunbar currently serves as a Globetrotter goodwill ambassador and an assistant coach. He’s still getting used to his off-the-court role but knows that his experience is essential in creating future stars.

“Globetrotters are athletes first and entertainers second,” he said. “It’s all about playing the best basketball possible and making people leave with smile on their faces.”

The Harlem Globetrotters play at Houston’s Toyota Center on Feb. 8