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All Of The Professional Sports Stars Who Appeared On Futurama

Having guest stars appear on long-running shows is not a new thing. Show writers have incorporated countless special guest stars into their episodes, sometimes playing themselves in the role while other times taking on a fictional persona. Special guest stars are generally famous folks from the big and small screens, though weaving in the occasional political figure or celebrity scientist isn't that out of the ordinary. 

Popular sports figures have also been prominently featured in shows over the years. Heck, even "The Brady Bunch" had episodes that featured Jets quarterback Joe Namath, Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale, and LA Rams defensive great Deacon Jones (via IMDb).

Famous figures making guest appearances on animated sitcoms became a popular staple with "The Simpsons," which boasts an impressive slate of celebrities that have found themselves four-fingered and (mostly) yellow throughout a 22-minute timeslot.

"Futurama" has also captured the attention of fans who have enjoyed special celebrity appearances over the show's storied run. Though musicians and actors were the primary sources of special guest stars on this animated show, some notable sports legends also took time out of their day to be animated in the year 3000.

Hank Aaron

In the classic episode "A Leela of Her Own," Leela is scouted by the owner of the New New York Mets blernsball team after he sees her beaning player after player in a pick-up game between the Planet Express crew and the newly arrived Cygnoids (per Futurama Fandom). 

The team owner, Abner Doubledeal, believes that Leela's one eye and lack of depth perception will make her quite the attraction to his financially struggling ball club. Leela is heralded as the first woman blernsball player, but rather than be admired by fellow women she finds herself thoroughly despised for her awful playing ability. In an attempt to not go down in history as the worst blersnball player in history, Leela seeks the advice of the current title holder, Hank Aaron XXIV, a descendent of baseball's home run king.

The voice of Aaron was provided by the real Hank Aaron, who helps coach Leela to be a better player. It's all for naught, however, as Leela's terrible plays on the field end up with her wearing the crown as the worst player in history. 

At the end of the episode, Aaron is gently consoled by the head of his many-times great grandfather, Hank Aaron, who tells him that he's still the world's worst football player.

Larry Bird

Boston Celtics great Larry Bird was a legend on the court during the 1980s and early 1990s. The star forward led his team to three NBA championships and was selected to 12 NBA All-Star teams. His three NBA MVP Awards and his Olympic gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics are additional jewels for his crown as a player (via Basketball Reference).

After his playing career was over, Bird coached the Indiana Pacers for two seasons in the late 1990s, winning the NBA Coach of the Year Award in 1998. Bird also made film appearances playing himself in the movies "Space Jam" and "Blue Chips" (per IMDb). 

Futurama fans will remember Bird's appearance on the "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" episode in 2013. The episode, split up into three vignettes in which Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew's body are watching television, features "Bendee Boo and the Mystery Crew" as one of the cartoons that Nixon and company watch. In that vignette, the Harlem Globetrotters are helping Professor Farnsworth clone a team of Larry Bird players so they can win the big game (per Futurama Fandom). 

Bird's only line appeared to be taken from a voicemail message Bird left for the show's creators. In that message, Bird states that he looked over the script and didn't want to be a part of the show. The creators used that voicemail as Bird's dialogue throughout the episode, begging the question if it was scripted or a case of real-life inserted into the cartoon.

The Harlem Globetrotters (sort of)

The antics of the Harlem Globetrotters weren't seen off the court for the first time on "Futurama." This crew of goofy basketball greats had made past appearances on "Scooby-Doo" and even co-starred in the 1981 made-for-tv movie "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island."

The Infosphere explains that the Globetrotters on Futurama are humanoids from the Globetrotter planet, known not only for their basketball skills but also for their scientific achievements. They are led by Bubblegum Tate and supported by Sweet Clyde Dixon, Curly Joe, and Goose. The team made their first appearance in the episode "Time Keeps on Slippin'" and has appeared in 14 episodes since.

Except for Dixon, many of the Globetrotters are based on several real-life Harlem Globetrotter players, most notably Curly Joe (based on retired Globetrotter Fred "Curly" Neal) and Goose, who is based on Hubert "Geese" Ausbie. 

Sadly, none of these characters were voiced by actual members of the Harlem Globetrotters. Instead, Curly Joe was played by John Dimaggio, who also voices Bender. David Herman, who provides the voices of minor characters throughout the show's 141 episodes, plays Sweet Clyde. Finally, Phil LaMarr, the voice of bureaucrat Hermes Conrad, lends his voice skills to play Bubblegum Tate (per IMDB).