Riverfront Museum Exhibit Celebrates Curley Boo Johnson

Alpha Media-Julia Bradley

A new exhibit at Peoria Riverfront Museum honors “The World’s Greatest Dribbler”.

Before joining the Harlem Globetrotters in 1988, Curley Boo Johnson played basketball at Richwoods High School and Peoria Central High.

Johnson gained all-American honors at Spoon River College, becoming 7th in the nation in shooting. He earned a marketing degree while playing at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and became the first athlete to have his jersey retired.

Johnson was nicknamed “Boo” by his father, Curley Johnson, Sr., one of the first black players to play for Bradley University, leading them to a national title in 1957. Johnson Sr. also played for the Harlem Globetrotters.

Johnson told WMBD’s Greg and Dan that he documented nearly everything he ever did as a Globetrotter.

“I created scrapbooks. I had an electronic organizer back in the day. And, I wrote down just simple things that now mean a lot,” said Johnson.

Johnson said his initial goal was to be a Globetrotter for 10 years, but he played until they retired him.

“I loved it. And, I said, ‘Man, I dig this. I got to figure out how long I can stay a Globetrotter.’ So, I did what I thought I had to do in order to have a long career,” said Johnson.

Johnson said his longevity wasn’t just about his basketball skills.

“I learned ‘the business’ of the Harlem Globetrotters to stay as long as I did.”

Johnson spent 18 years with the Globetrotters, from 1988 to 2007, performing in 94 countries.

Memorabilia from Johnson’s years in Peoria, his college days, and with the Globetrotters, will be on display in the Peoria Riverfront Museum’s lobby through March 31, and in the IHSA Peak Performance Gallery until June.

More information can be found HERE.

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