A History Lesson With Booze ®

Losing for a Living, and Yet ‘The Eternal Optimist’

This week in 1971, The Washington Generals, the hapless basketball counterpart to the Harlem Globetrotters, won their only game. Toast the biggest losers in sports history with a drink that keeps (hoop) hope alive.

Nixon/Getty Images
Nixon/Getty Images

The Washington Generals were born to lose. The team was founded in 1952 for one purpose: to play the Harlem Globetrotters.

Harlem, of course, is famous for clowning around on the court and sinking amazing trick shots. Sometimes they play against college teams – and even occasionally lose – but usually they’re matched against a chump team. The Washington Generals are the chumps.

Led for over forty years by coach and former player Louis “Red” Klotz, the Generals haven’t always been called the Generals. For a while they were the New Jersey Reds, and in the late 1990’s they became the New York Nationals. But they’re all Klotz’s teams and, though he insists they play to win, they always lose. Except on January 5th, 1971.

That day, the Globetrotters were having so much fun on the court they lost track of the score. With two minutes to play they were down by 12. Harlem battled back, but Klotz himself made the final shot in overtime, and the New Jersey Reds won by a point. The crowd booed. Some kids in the stands reportedly cried. Klotz later said it was like he had “killed Santa Claus.”

Don’t worry Globetrotter fans, you’re unlikely to ever have to endure another Generals victory. They’ve now lost over 13,000 times.


The Eternal Optimist

Photo: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com

Dreamed by Eric Holzherr, owner of Wisdom in Washington D.C.:

Shake it up in a martini shaker with ice. Pour it in a Tom Collins glass on the rocks. Drink it down in 13,000 tiny swallows.