The Globetrotters started in the Negro American Legion League as the "Giles Post," and in 1927 turned professional as the "Savoy Big Five." That year, promoter Saperstein bought the team and re-named it the Harlem Globetrotters, after the most famous of all African-American neighborhoods. Up until the late 1930s, the Globetrotters were a serious competitive team, but they gradually worked comic routines into their act until they became known more for entertainment than sports.
Because virtually all of its players have been African American and because of the buffoonery involved in many of the Globetrotters' skits, they drew some criticism in the post-Civil Rights era. In recent years, however, their popularity seems to have returned, notably with their 2002 induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.