The Harlem Globetrotters: Bringing the Fun Back to Sports
By Jon White, Multimedia Reporter
Despite never having won an NBA Championship or an Olympic gold medal, the Globetrotters have an incredible amount of fame. The team was founded in 1926, and the popularity of the Globetrotters stems from the idea that sports should be fun. The audience at the Northern Sports Center on 11 February enjoyed themselves while being treated to a show, as calling it just a basketball game would be insincere. The Globetrotters make sure to entertain the crowd while sinking baskets, along with getting people of all ages to engage in the show. The opposing team, The World All-Stars, did a great job complimenting the Globetrotters’ antics. The players representing The Harlem Globetrotters included team captain Hi-Lite, Dizzy, Spider, Biggie, Flip and the only female baller on the court, Sweet J.
Before the game even started, MC GT called up some kids from the crowd to participate in a dance off, where the kids were asked to dance until the music stopped. The last kid moving would be removed from the game, but all were given consolation prizes as to make sure nobody walked away empty handed.
Before tipoff, GT explained that each quarter would have a special rule added into the game, as voted by people online. The rule for the first quarter was that coaches could throw out a red ribbon, signaling that the opposing team had to make a trick shot of the coach’s choosing. If the shot was successful, the team gained five points, but if the team missed, then five points were deducted. The Globetrotters had two challenges issued against them, one where the player Dizzy had to spin the ball on his finger while doing a layup (which was successful), the other where the player had to use his head to throw the ball (he was unsuccessful). There were even spots on the floor where someone could make a four-point shot from, signifying that this was not just a regular game of basketball. During the quarter, there were multiple stops, where the Globetrotters would smack talk the other team, make jokes to the audience, or even take time out to make fun of the referees. The audience ate up the performances, as there was a tremendous amount of laughter coming from the crowd.
The Globetrotters were down by three points when the second quarter started, as a new rule was implemented to keep things interesting. The rule was called “Miss One, Make One,” wherein every time a basket was made, that team gets an extra player; if one was missed, a player had to leave (for a maximum of five players and a minimum of two players for the team). This lead to some moments of teams being outnumbered, allowing the Globetrotters to show off their basketball handling skills. They used a lot of quick crossovers and footwork to maneuver around the extra players on the court. Despite all the extra people, the Globetrotters still found time to pull a child from the audience so she could be on the court. After joking around with the referee that she was their fifth player, they helped spin a ball on her finger before sending her back to her parents. By the time the second quarter was finished, the Globetrotters were still down, 55-50.
The halftime show was done by local dancing group, The Zahirah Belly Dancers. The group danced to a few different songs, including the Harlem Globetrotters theme, “Sweet Georgia Brown.” After spending a majority of the break entertaining the crowd, the dancers were rewarded with thunderous applause. The Zahirah crew also returned to the court after the third quarter, to help lead the spectators in an energetic sing/dance along to “YMCA.”
The third quarter started after GT explained the special rule, which was that each player wearing a special jersey would receive double the points if he or she got a basket. The jerseys were tossed around a few times, making sure that no one held the jersey for the entire length of time. Halfway through the quarter, the Globetrotters decided to show off their dancing skills by doing the “Globetrotter Bounce” to a mash-up of songs, including “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Blurred Lines.” They also stopped play of the game so that team captain, Hi-Lite could chase around fellow player, Dizzy, with a water bucket which ended up getting tossed onto a few “lucky” fans. After all the horseplay and points that happened during the third quarter, the Globetrotters were still down 74-73.
The special rule implemented for the final quarter was voted on by the audience. By measure of applause, the most popular rule shown so far that night would be the rule chosen. By unanimous applause, the trick shot rule was implemented again. The ribbon was only thrown once, but the trick shot given to the Globetrotters was that the player had to get a basket using only his feet. By lifting himself up onto the rim, the Globetrotter did a backwards flip and slammed the ball with his feet, resulting in a fevered cheer from everyone present. The Globetrotters also stopped play to welcome a very young boy onto the court; Hi-Lite kept calling him a son. They cheered the child continually to make a basket from the free-throw line, but he was unable to do so. After numerous attempts, they lifted the boy up so he could dunk the ball. Hi-Lite also made sure to stop the game so he could have an audience member come onto the court so he could give her a purse. The woman was reluctant, but soon warmed up and got into the act, which included having to kiss Hi-Lite on the cheek (twice). Despite all the showboating and pauses for audience interaction, the Globetrotters finally put enough points on the board to win 100-93.
Even though there is no doubt that the Globetrotters will win the game, the event is not just about the basketball. The team is all about giving the crowd a show and showing that you can still have fun playing sports. A lot of modern day sports have become a serious affair, with a lot of players being too serious about the sport. When a sport becomes too serious, the fun is taken away. Thankfully, the Globetrotters know how to not take themselves too seriously, even though they are experts at the sport. The jokes and interaction make it so that it is a family event where everyone can have fun. Even those who have never played basketball before will have a good time. Those who have played the sport before will become jealous of all the impressive maneuvers that the Globetrotters showcase. As a testament of their love of the fans, the Globetrotters stayed behind so that all of the fans that wanted to see them could come up and get an autograph. The far-reaching autograph line indicated that it was a successful night of entertainment and the spirit of fun was still alive.