DENVER – DECEMBER 08: Legendary Harlem Globetrotter Curly Neal helps Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky spin a basketball during a game against the Miami Heat on December 8, 2006 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the term and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Curly Neal

Fred “Curly” Neal, whose trademark shaved head and dazzling dribbling skills delighted audiences of the Harlem Globetrotters, died Thursday at the age of 77.

Neal died at his home near Houston, according to an announcement on the official webpage of the exhibition team, which brought basketball to a global audience with its entertaining blend of comedy and athletic skill.

“It was Curly’s magical ball-handling, shooting, charismatic smile and iconic bald head in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries, that made them start to play and fall in love with the game,” the Globetrotters said of Neal, who played for the Globetrotters from 1963-85.

“One of the truly magical dribblers and shooters in basketball history, Neal fittingly played for 22 seasons in the red, white and blue, wearing No. 22.”

“We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known,” Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said. “Curly’s basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide.”

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