UH alum puts a spin on life after
By Mike Emery
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
“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