Meadowlark Lemon, (Meadow Lemon III, or Meadow George Lemon, or George Meadow Lemon), American basketball player (born April 25, 1932, Wilmington, N.C.?—died Dec. 27, 2015, Scottsdale, Ariz.), was perhaps the most popular member of the entertainment basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters during his 1954–78 tenure. His exceptional athletic skills—notably, the long-distance hook shot and a variety of no-look passes—combined with his exuberant comic antics, caused him to be known as “the clown prince of basketball.” Lemon, by his own account, aspired from childhood to join the Globetrotters. As a member of the team, he played in thousands of games worldwide in venues large and small and appeared on such TV shows as ABC’s Wide World of Sports and The Ed Sullivan Show.
His best-known comic routines included sneaking up on a referee and dousing him with a bucketful of water and then menacing the audience with a bucket that would prove when tossed to be full of confetti. He spied on the opposing team’s huddles, pantomimed other sports, and kept up a running banter throughout the game. Lemon orchestrated the team’s performances and was the highest paid of the team members. After he left the Globetrotters, he formed several more basketball entertainment troupes, with which he continued playing and performing, often with former Globetrotters teammate Marques Haynes. In 2000 Lemon was given the Lifetime of Laughter Award by the International Clown Hall of Fame and received the John Bunn Award for lifetime contribution to basketball from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2003 he was enshrined as a member of the latter.