Dancing Harry

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Marvin Cooper [lower-alpha 1] (born c. 1943) [2] is a former dancer who performed under the stage name Dancing Harry at professional basketball games. He danced on the sidelines during timeouts and gave whammies to the opposing team. Cooper performed in both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the American Basketball Association (ABA) with the Baltimore Bullets, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets and the Indiana Pacers.

Basketball Team sport

Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball through the defender's hoop while preventing the opposing team from shooting through their own hoop. A field goal is worth two points, unless made from behind the three-point line, when it is worth three. After a foul, timed play stops and the player fouled or designated to shoot a technical foul is given one or more one-point free throws. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, but if regulation play expires with the score tied, an additional period of play (overtime) is mandated.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a men's professional basketball league in North America, composed of 30 teams. It is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, and is widely considered to be the premier men's professional basketball league in the world.

American Basketball Association defunct professional basketball league in the United States, merged with the National Basketball Association in 1976

The original American Basketball Association (ABA) was a men's professional basketball league, from 1967 to 1976. The ABA ceased to exist with the American Basketball Association–National Basketball Association merger in 1976, leading to several teams joining the National Basketball Association and to the introduction of the 3-point shot in the NBA in 1979.

Contents

Early years

Cooper played basketball in high school at Mount Saint Joseph in Baltimore. In the locker room, he performed impersonations of Elvis Presley. One night, he was tricked by his friends to go on stage at a dance, where he performed "Hound Dog". His photo was placed in the school's yearbook with the caption: "Mt. St. Joe's Elvis Presley keeps the dance and swing." [5]

Baltimore Largest city in Maryland, United States

Baltimore is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Maryland, as well as the 30th most populous city in the United States, with a population of 602,495 in 2018 and also the largest such independent city in the country. Baltimore was established by the Constitution of Maryland as an independent city in 1729. As of 2017, the population of the Baltimore metropolitan area was estimated to be just under 2.802 million, making it the 21st largest metropolitan area in the country. Baltimore is located about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Washington, D.C., making it a principal city in the Washington-Baltimore combined statistical area (CSA), the fourth-largest CSA in the nation, with a calculated 2018 population of 9,797,063.

Elvis Presley American singer and actor

Elvis Aaron Presley, also known mononymously as Elvis, was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King".

Hound Dog (song) Original song written and composed by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton

"Hound Dog" is a twelve-bar blues song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Recorded originally by Big Mama Thornton on August 13, 1952, in Los Angeles and released by Peacock Records in late February 1953, "Hound Dog" was Thornton's only hit record, selling over 500,000 copies, spending 14 weeks in the R&B charts, including seven weeks at number one. Thornton's recording of "Hound Dog" is listed as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll", and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in February 2013.

Later, Cooper sang and danced as part of an eight-piece band that played in clubs around Baltimore. He became a fan of Earl Monroe while watching the Bullets player on television. When he had money or his mom bought him a ticket, he would attend their games. [5]

Earl Monroe American basketball player

Vernon Earl Monroe is an American retired professional basketball player. He played for two teams, the Baltimore Bullets and the New York Knicks, during his career in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Both teams have retired Monroe's number. Due to his on-court success and flashy style-of-play, Monroe was given the nicknames "Black Jesus" and "Earl the Pearl". Monroe was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990.

Dancing career

Dancing Harry first started dancing at basketball games around 1969. [lower-alpha 2] The Baltimore crowd was dead, and he had been drinking a few beers when his friends convinced him to dance. [5] [6] While performing in Baltimore, he befriended Monroe. When Monroe moved to play for the Knicks, Cooper followed and brought his act to New York. [1] Late in the 1971–72 season, Cooper asked the Knicks for permission to dance at their games, but he was denied. He went to a Knicks game anyway, arriving at halftime in a game that the Boston Celtics led by 20. The Knicks Willis Reed asked Cooper why he was not dancing. Cooper told him the front office did not approve. "The hell with the front office, Harry. Do something!'", Reed said. [2]

The 1971–72 New York Knicks season was the 26th season for the team in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Knicks compiled a 48–34 record in the regular season to finish second in the Atlantic Division and earn a berth in the NBA Playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. New York had acquired Earl Monroe in a trade with the Baltimore Bullets in November 1971.

Boston Celtics Professional basketball team in Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Celtics are an American professional basketball team based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. Founded in 1946 as one of the league's original eight teams, the team play their home games at TD Garden, which they share with the National Hockey League (NHL)'s Boston Bruins. The Celtics are regarded as the most successful basketball team in NBA history; the franchise has won the most championships in the NBA with 17, accounting for 23.9 percent of all NBA championships since the league's founding.

Willis Reed American basketball player and coach

Willis Reed Jr. is an American retired basketball player, coach and general manager. He spent his entire professional playing career (1964–1974) with the New York Knicks. In 1982, Reed was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1996, he was voted one of the "50 Greatest Players in NBA History".

Cooper started dancing, the crowd cheered, and the Knicks eventually won the game. Dancing Harry became a celebrity. He donned outlandish outfits with a black cap, a floppy cap or hat, and often had platform shoes. His hexes excited the crowd and distracted opponents, adding to the Knicks' already formidable home-court advantage. He never received any compensation from the Knicks. In 1973, the Knicks won an NBA championship, but rumors circulated during the playoffs that the Knicks front office was not crazy with Harry. Their owner, Ned Irish, was a traditionalist. When Cooper arrived for 1973–74 season, ushers at the Knicks home at Madison Square Garden told Cooper he could not dance, and he was ejected when he tried anyway. [2]

The 1972–73 New York Knicks season was the 27th season of NBA basketball in New York City. The Knicks capture their second NBA title as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, four games to one, which was exactly the same count the Knicks lost to the Lakers a year earlier.

Edward S. Irish was an American basketball promoter and one of the key figures in popularizing professional basketball. He was the president of the New York Knicks from 1946 to 1974. He was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1964.

The 1973–74 New York Knicks season was the 28th season for the team in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Knicks entered the season as the defending NBA champions, having defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1973 NBA Finals in five games to win their second championship. In the regular season, the Knicks finished in second place in the Atlantic Division with a 49–33 record, and qualified for the NBA Playoffs for the eighth consecutive year.

Cooper took his act to Nassau Coliseum, where he was welcomed by the New Jersey Nets. With Dancing Harry performing, the Nets with star Julius Erving won the 1974 ABA championship. Harry also danced at some New York Yankees home games in 1974 at Shea Stadium while Yankee Stadium was undergoing renovations. [7] Harry danced for another decade, including a move to Indianapolis, where he became the Indiana Pacers' first mascot and was paid nightly. [2]

Nassau Coliseum Arena in New York, United States

The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is a multi-purpose indoor arena in Uniondale, New York, east of New York City. The Coliseum is approximately 7 miles (11 km) east of the eastern limits of the Borough of Queens of New York City, and is located next to the Meadowbrook Parkway. It is branded as NYCB Live: Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for naming rights reasons.

Julius Erving American basketball player

Julius Winfield Erving II, commonly known by the nickname Dr. J, is an American retired basketball player who helped popularize a modern style of play that emphasizes leaping and playing above the rim in his career at the ABA and the NBA. Erving helped legitimize the American Basketball Association (ABA) and was the best-known player in that league when it merged into the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the 1975–76 season.

New York Yankees Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in the Bronx, New York, United States

The New York Yankees are an American professional baseball team based in the New York City borough of the Bronx. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) East division. They are one of two major league clubs based in New York City, the other being the National League's (NL) New York Mets. The Yankees began play in the 1901 season as the Baltimore Orioles. In 1903, Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchased the franchise after it ceased operations and moved it to New York City, renaming the club the New York Highlanders. The Highlanders were officially renamed the New York Yankees in 1913.

The New York Daily News called Harry a "trailblazer of sorts", even though he never danced for Portland, as nearly every NBA team by 2003 had a paid squad of dancers, providing entertainment other than basketball as part of the game experience. [2] He also inspired Dancing Barry, who debuted at a Houston Rockets game against the Knicks in the 1975 NBA Playoffs. [3] [8]

Later years

Cooper returned to Baltimore in the mid-1980s to care for his ailing mother. As of 2003, he worked as a skycap at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. [2]

Notes

  1. Most sources listed his name as Marvin Cooper, [1] [2] [3] while The Indianapolis Star referred to him as Edward Cooper [4]
  2. The New York Times wrote in a January 1973 article that his first game was three season ago, implying the 1969–70 season, [6] while The Village Voice was unclear if it was on Easter Sunday in 1968. [5]

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References

  1. 1 2 Hahn, Allan (2012). New York Knicks: The Complete Illustrated History. MVP Books. p. 103. ISBN   9780760343319 . Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Siegel, Joel (May 25, 2003). "WHAMMIES Dancing Harry Chapter 78". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on December 14, 2012.
  3. 1 2 Twyman, Lisa (February 20, 1984). "When The L.a. Lakers Call Time Out, It's Time In For Dancing Barry's Act". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  4. MacGregor, Scott (July 8, 2001). "The memories, at least, will always be there". The Indianapolis Star. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Werbe, Susan (May 10, 1973). "Return of the Whammy". The Village Voice. pp. 23, 26. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  6. 1 2 Anderson, Dave (January 6, 1973). "Dancing Harry and Earl the Pearl" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2012.(subscription required)
  7. Audio tape of 9/25/74 Yankees radio broadcast.
  8. Crowe, Jerry (January 8, 2007). "His dance moves made him part of Lakers' show". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 4, 2013.