Harlem Globetrotters owner Mannie Jackson is on a mission: to raise the historic profile of Reece “Goose” Tatum, a star for the team in the 40s and 50s and a trailblazing sports entrepreneur.
Last year Jackson led a successful campaign for Tatum’s belated admission to the Basketball Hall of Fame. And Goose, the documentary about Tatum that Jackson’s Boxcar Entertainment produced with TeamWorks Media, premieres Feb. 26 on ESPN.
“People know the one-word icons like Ali, Owens, Ashe and Oscar, and Goose belongs in that conversation,” says TeamWorks CEO and Goose executive producer Jay Sharman.
Working with TeamWorks on the 2005 Globetrotters doc The Team That Changed the World “along with the marketing and PR services, left an imprint on Mannie,” Sharman says.
“Goose was a story that slipped through the cracks, and Mannie shares the same philosophy that we do—it’s not about success, it’s about significance. He realized he could help write a piece of history.”
After playing baseball in the Negro League, Tatum played for the Globetrotters in the 40s and early 50s. He performed elaborate comic routines in the midst of games, and innovated the no-look hook shot and the no-look pass.
“He was the first global sports icon that really combined sport and entertainment,” Sharman says, “and was a key contributor to breaking down the racial barrier in basketball.”
In 1955 Tatum left the Globetrotters over a contract dispute, and with fellow Globetrotter Marques Haynes, founded a rival team, The Fabulous Harlem Magicians, before dying at age 45 in 1967.
“Can you imagine, within one year of Brown v. the Board of Education, Goose, the highest paid basketball player in the world, leaves the security of the Trotters over the concept of getting fair value for himself and starts his own competitive team?” Sharman says.
“He pioneered free agency. He did it against an unthinkable backdrop of racial divide. He became a cultural influence and an entrepreneur that inspired an entire generation.”
The film features interviews including Julius Erving, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Bill Cosby, and Ernie Banks. Anthony Mackie narrates.
Goose plays 8:30 p.m. on ESPN and 10 p.m. on ESPN2. ESPNU will also rebroadcast TeamWorks’ 2010 doc The Street Stops Here, about the life-changing basketball program at St. Anthony’s High School in Jersey City, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m., March 2 at 2:30 p.m., March 19 at 10 p.m., and April 3 at 9 p.m.
TeamWorks just wrapped production on the eight-episode series for the Big Ten Network, Impact the World, about the international work of Big Ten schools. Later this year they’ll produce another Big Ten series, Live Big.
They’re in production on a video for the Big Shoulders Fund, and they’re running PR, social media and marketing campaigns for clients including Wholesome Goodness and Play Mechanix.