On February 18, 2007 I went to see the Harlem Globetrotters for the first time in 35 years; the last time being early 1972 at the Rapides Coliseum in Alexandria LA. Their opponent today was the New York Nationals. Before the game the Globetrotters conducted a "Globetrotters University" in which members of the audience would participate with the players to learn the secrets of how the ball is moved around and trick dribbled. They made it look so easy but we all know that it takes lots of practice.
The Harlem Globetrotters were not even originally from Harlem, or even New York. They were formed in Chicago in 1926 as an outlet for African Americans to play basketball. They added some comedy to the playing and started touring and barnstorming. Since that time they have visited nearly every country in the world. By combining comedy, audience participation, and good basketball playing, at the time of their 20,000 game in 1998, they had managed to amass a record of 19,668-332. Their skills also allowed them to appear in movies and in cartoons. They are the only sports franchise to have a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and the second team to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a team.
The game on February 18, 2007 was like most of the other games: audience participation, some great skits and comedy, and good ballplaying. I managed to laugh a lot and at the end of the game got my program autographed by one of the players.
On May 10, 2008 the Harlem Globetrotters participated in Amtrak's National Train Day at New York's Penn Station. A makeshift basketball half court was set up near the Amtrak ticket offices, and 5 members of the team strutted their stuff. Since we were in Penn Station on our way to a Broadway show, I got to see them live for a little while. However, I still wanted to see a full game in an arena again, perhaps late in this year or else in 2010.
PS: It was May 10, 1869 that the Transcontinental Railroad was finished.
Clockwise from top left: Harlem Globetrotters' Cartoon; recent team photo; map showing the Nassau Colosseum; and a poster advertising their 1951 movie
This is the countdown to December 21, 2012 which is the end of the world according the the Mayan calendar. Let's hope that I can get to a Globetrotters game by then.
Have no fear. On February 20, 2011 I did make it to another Harlem Globetrotters game, again at the Nassau Coliseum. This time I opted to buy my tickets on-line but pick them up at the will call window at the Coliseum. This should not be a problem since I used a will call window back in 1997 when I bought 3 tickets for the Norwich Navigators baseball team. However, I learned that the Nassau Coliseum is NOT Dodd Stadium and the line hardly moved. I must have been on line for over 25 minutes before I finally got my ticket. I mean come on, it's not rocket science to look at a driver's license and credit card and hand someone a few tickets. Anyway, I finally made it to my seat in section 224 and everything was OK after that.
As usual, the Harlem Globetrotters played the Washington Generals. Besides basketball, they had a penalty box, just like hockey, and audience participation where people from the stands came out onto the court during the game to join in the comedy. The players were wearing microphones so we were all able to hear their comments to each other and to the referees. Among their antics were combining football with basketball (a 5 man line), harassing the referees and the Generals' coach, and giving a ladies purse to one of the Generals while a Trotter makes a basket. There were appearances by the mascot Globie, as well as his big brother, Big G. We also had some half time entertainment, and in the end, the Globetrotters won by a score of 127-108 (the Generals have not beaten them since 1971). After the game we all went down to the edge of the court and to get autographs from some of the players. I did not have a basketball, program or shirt but I had the receipt from my ticket purchase so I asked Zeus Stewart, who wears #25, to sign one of the papers.
The Nassau Coliseum is in pretty bad shape and we all think that it needs to be replaced. Unfortunately the New York Islanders are doing poorly and that is not going to happen in my lifetime. I do hope to see the Harlem Globetrotters again in a couple of years, but NOT at the Nassau Coliseum
Here are several photos taken at the February 20, 2011 game played at the Nassau Coliseum. Since I used my cell phone, some may be a bit blurry. Sorry about that.
On March 3, 2012 I added 6 members of the team to my "likes" on www.facebook.com. They are Stretch Middleton, Airport Greenup, Special K Daley, Nate Big Easy Lofton, Paul Tiny Sturgess (he is actually 7' 8" tall) and Fatima TNT Maddox. Hopefully I will get to see them play either live or on TV in the near future.
Above, left to right: Airport Greenup, Nate Big Easy Lofton, and Tiny Sturgess
Above: TNT Maddox, Special K Daley (with Chef Gordon Ramsay) and Stretch Middleton
Left: the Globetrotters and their 4 point goal sign. Just sink a basket from the half court & sideline junction and it's a 4 pointer!
It seems like the guys have a friend in Pope Francis. The team made Pope Francis an honorary Globetrotter on May 5, 2015, and gave him a jersey with number 90 on it.