Globetrotter’s “Flight Time” gets a confetti splash from team captain Special K Daley at the Breslin Center during their show.
By Rick Garcia
E.LANSING, MI -- Almost every adult has some childhood memory of the Harlem Globetrotters - an all-black basketball team donned in red, white and blue satin basketball uniforms performing incredible feats of dribbling, passing, and trick shooting. What’s more memorable were the slapstick comedies, gut-bursting antics that left many smiles and laughter to young and old, while the whistling tune of “Sweet Georgia Brown” echo throughout the ball arena.
For over 85 years the Harlem Globetrotters have been entertaining families around the world performing from home-town gyms, Royal courts and even the Pope at the Vatican.
The Harlem Globetrotters began in 1926 as the Savoy Big Five named after the famous Savoy Ballroom in Chicago. Inspired by Abe Saperstein, a young man of 24 years, who organized and coached the team, the original players included Tommy Brookins, Inman Jackson, Lester Johnson, Joe Lillard, Randolph Ramsey, Walter “Toots” Wright, and Bill “Ham” Watson. Wright, Byron “Fat” Long, William “Kid” Oliver, Albert “Runt” Pullins and Andy Washington . These players eventually became the genesis of the first Globetrotters team.
When the Globetrotters took to the television and silver-screen, many baby-boomers in their youth idolized players like George “Meadowlark” Lemon, Fred “Curly” Neal, or Robert “Showboat” Hall. These legendary players made many guest appearances, visited Gilligan’s Island and became cartoon characters solving mysteries with Scooby-Doo.
Now after 85 years and 20,000 games later, the team has become one of the most recognizable franchises in sports.
On January 24th the Globetrotters came to the MSU Breslin Center as part of the Michigan segment of their tour which continue to Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. A new generation of the Globetrotters have taken to the court consisting of talented players from around the world and included women in their roster.
Leading the squad is Special K Daley who hails from Panama City, Panama. At six-foot five inches, Daley played college ball at Azusa Pacific University in California and is truly the “showman” of the group where his outstanding skill and performing act moves the entire show. When traveling outside the U.S., Daley, who speaks fluent Spanish, is very popular in Latin America. Other notables include Dizzy Grant, Firefly Fisher, Handles Franklin, Too Tall Hall, Hammer Harrison and Bull Bullard.
The other show-stopper is Tee-Time Brawner, a young woman who moves and shoots like an NBA all-star with poise and beauty as well. Brawner along with the entire team, are true athletes and actors – a rare combination because typically some professional athletes become actors after they play or retire.
Aside from their amazing ball-handling and precision “rallies” every Globetrotter player has a non-stop performing role throughout the 90-minute game and show. The game would not be a show without the visiting team, which varies upon the season. There’s the Select, All-Stars or the Generals – all gifted athletes who are associated with professional basketball and train as hard as the Globetrotters.
The venue is both a performance and a professional ball game, but the emphasis is the audience and particularly children. The Harlem Globetrotters goal is to inspire and lift the spirits of all youth through heart-warming gestures such as helping a little girl spin a basketball or a boy shoot a free-throw on behalf of the team. The most entertaining part of the game is their humor around the court and their jocularity toward the referee, opposing players and in some cases, a poor adult who gets dragged out to the floor for a harmless ribbing.
The evening always ends with a celebration of dance and personal autographs from the team members, who make it a point to engage with everyone along with a smile. Children surely smile and will continue on for generations as long as the Harlem Globetrotters come to town.
Editor’s Note: Look for Harlem Globetrotter tickets at the Breslin Center in December of 2014. Mark your calendar, it is a show that your family will remember for a lifetime. For ticket information, call 517-432-5000 or 800-968-2737.
This was printed in the February 9, 2014 - February 22, 2014 edition.