The Globetrotters’ visit to Los Angeles came shortly after the formation of the National Basketball Association in 1946. In 1950, Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, and Nat Clifton became the first black players in the NBA. The league’s process of integration was slow, with teams reluctant to have more than a couple of black players on their rosters. This made barnstorming teams like the Globetrotters important for talented black players and for fans who wanted to see more up tempo and flashy basketball.
On the history of the Harlem Globetrotters, see Ben Green’s Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters (2005).