By BRIAN IANIERI, Press of Atlantic City
Everyone still calls him Red, although his bright red hair long ago turned to white.
Full-court basketball is a memory to Louis “Red” Klotz, the 89-year-old owner of the Washington Generals — the perpetual patsies to the Harlem Globetrotters.
But the 5-foot-7-inch great grandfather never lost his touch, his bright eyes or his desire to play.
Now he plays half-court at Margate’s Jewish Community Center and Jerome Avenue courts — despite an injury two years ago that could have sidelined someone half his age.
“He can’t move around as well as he used to, but his shot is so accurate, and he gets his shot off so quickly, he only needs a little break in the defense,” said Tim Kelly, a Richard Stockton College of New Jersey spokesman who is writing a biography on Klotz. “I’ve seen him take the ball away from young kids who are a foot and a half taller than him and 100 pounds heavier then him, but if they dribble with their heads down he’ll sneak around and take the ball.”
Since 1952, Klotz, of Margate, has owned a losing team of solid and sound basketball players who double as vaudeville straight men — getting their shorts pulled down or waiting for the Globetrotters to break from a half-court huddle and line up like it’s third and long.
Some of Klotz’s players turned pro. Others became Globetrotters.
“Like I always told the team, when you get out there and get introduced and get a little booed because you’re the opposition, by the time the first quarter ends those people are going to look down and say, ‘Hey, those guys are good, terrific ballplayers. The Globetrotters got their hands full,’” Klotz said. “That gets respect.”