Windlands East resident continues mission to preserve basketball history
Back in the day, Dr. John Kline had the quickest hands on the court and even faster feet. Today, Dr. Kline, 85, enjoys reminiscing about his days as “Jumpin’ Johnny,” an All-American college basketball player and Harlem Globetrotter, with fellow residents at Holiday Retirement’s Windlands East retirement community in Madison, Tennessee.
Dr. Kline suited up in the Harlem Globetrotters uniform for the first time in 1953, traveling around the world to amaze and delight audiences with his athleticism and impressive basketball skill.
“People couldn’t wait to see us. Everywhere we went, we would pack the stadiums,” said Dr. Kline.
After retiring from the Globetrotters in 1959, Dr. Kline returned to his alma mater to pursue his education, eventually earning his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Wayne State University. Since then, Dr. Kline has dedicated his life to public service in his hometown of Detroit working in substance abuse research and empowering youth through sports and recreation.
In 1996, Dr. Kline founded the Black Legends of Professional Basketball Foundation, a Detroit-based foundation promoting and preserving the history and culture of African American basketball. He’s also published 15 books and three movie screenplays.
Since his arrival at Windlands East, Jumpin’ Johnny has settled into his celebrity status.
“I can’t believe the joy that people share with me. These people are 80 and 90 years old, and they relive the time they spent with their children and grandchildren watching the Harlem Globetrotters,” said Dr. Kline. “It makes me feel good that I helped provide that kind of inspiration and entertainment to so many people.”
Recently, Dr. Kline hosted an exhibit of his Harlem Globetrotters memorabilia at Windlands East. He shared stories with a packed audience of friends, family and residents about his experience as a basketball legend.
“It’s been amazing to have such an influential figure in our community,” said Thelma Jane McDowd, a fellow Windlands East resident and lifelong fan of the Harlem Globetrotters. “I can’t believe we got a Globetrotter here.”
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