An evening with basketball’s most consistent winners
THE SANTA CLARA
January 21, 2016
In the world of basketball, there exists a parallel universe. Steph Curry and LeBron James are unheard of. The rules are different. There is no NBA, no thirty team league, no 82-game schedule. There are two teams, and each time they play, the outcome is the same: one team always wins, one team always loses and fans go home smiling.
On Friday night, the Harlem Globetrotters took on their longtime rival, the World All-Stars (formerly the Washington Generals) at the SAP Center in San Jose.
Beloved worldwide for balling-out in the name of entertainment, the Globetrotters are celebrating their ninetieth year of family-friendly basketball antics.
Before the game began, the half-full stadium of fans (mostly families with young children) were treated to some breakdancing and hijinks by Globie, the Globetrotters’ mascot. A favorite among frenetic children and Instagram-obsessed teenage girls alike, Globie busted out a wicked coffee grinder, spun on his head (a globe, obviously) and high-fived kids sitting courtside.
Following Globie’s routine, the World All-Stars (donned in appropriately villainous black uniforms) made their way onto the court. Their coach, Reggie Harrison, grabbed the microphone and turned heel.
“All good things must come to an end,” Coach Harrison sneered, referring to the Harlem Globetrotters’ legendary winning record.
The crowd began to boo, prompting Coach Harrison to make fun of the crowd’s booing abilities (“Y’all don’t even boo right”), which prompted the crowd to boo louder.
Just as passions were reaching their peak, the Globetrotters exploded out of the tunnel to the sounds of raucous applause and the infectious whistle of Brother Bones’ “Sweet Georgia Brown,” the team’s official theme song. The squad spun, kicked, dished and bounced the ball amongst themselves as the announcer made the proper player introductions (Globetrotter nicknames included “TNT,” “Big Easy” and “Scooter”).
Following the Globetrotters’ “warm-up” of alley-oops and half-court shots, the game began. The World All-Stars jumped out to an early and predictable lead. Sensing danger, the Globetrotters decided to take a time-out.
During the break, Globie’s inflatable brother, Big G came onto the court and pratfalls ensued. He bounced on his head, collapsed in his costume and face planted repeatedly, much to the sadistic delight of the children in the audience.
The game resumed and the All-Stars continued to surge, as their fundamentally-sound play proved more effective than the Globetrotters’ attempts at style and entertainment. At the end of one, the All-Stars had the lead.
Trying to dissect and analyze Globetrotter basketball strategy would be about as useful as a food review of McDonald’s. But the game essentially played out like this:
The Globetrotters primarily called a passing play called “the weave,” involving three players moving in a serpentine fashion and quickly dishing the ball to one another in order to open up space.
Once the floor cleared up, the ‘Trotters would attempt either a four-point shot (a feature of their universe) or a dunk. They never settled for mid-range jumpers or threes. Not once.
The Globetrotters run all of their plays through Big Easy, the rotund, seven-feet tall player-coach-manager-MC who is always positioned at the top of the key (similar to how the Chicago Bulls run plays through skilled passing-big man Joakim Noah). He facilitates the weave and assists on the majority of alley-oops.
Big Easy is the heart and soul of the Globetrotters. He cracks jokes with the audience (kissed a random man on the mouth after hitting on his wife), instigates conflict with the All-Stars (pantsed their power forward) and provides commentary during the game in the form of encouraging sayings to his teammates (“Oh you got it!” “That’s nice, that’s nice”).
He is the team’s Groucho Marx, their Moe Howard. He’s the ringleader, and the center of the madness.
Said madness, of course, was non-stop. Globetrotters climbed on the rim to kick away the All-Stars’ shot attempts, intentionally passed the ball to unsuspecting referees and leapfrogged opponents during dunks before a benchwarmer dumped water on them.
Every so often, evil Coach Harrison would get upset and curse the Globetrotters for “having too much fun.” Throughout the game, he would pull out the rulebook and convince the referee to eject various Globetrotters for their tomfoolery.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, three Globetrotters had been ejected, Big Easy had gone down with an injury and Coach Harrison had altered the scoreboard to make the game 84-80 in favor of the All-Stars. It looked as though the Globetrotters were going to receive a rare and uncharacteristic loss.
However, Big Easy triumphantly returned from the locker room, magically cured of his “injury,” and revealed that the rulebook Coach Harrison had been using was a fake.
“The only rule that matters is that these people have a good time,” Big Easy said as the crowd applauded.
Rejuvenated and inspired, the Globetrotters finished strong and won 88-84. The team bowed, the families cheered and the performance was complete.
It was a little corny and a little predictable. But the Harlem Globetrotters provided two hours of dazzling and frequently funny basketball-based entertainment that delighted people of all ages.
The Harlem Globetrotters are good at what they do, and what they do is good. They do it all over the world, all of the time, and they’ve been doing it for almost a century.
Much has changed in the last 90 years, especially in the world of basketball. But in this parallel universe of buffoonery, skillful play and family fun, the story is still the same: the Globetrotters win, the All-Stars lose and everyone in the crowd goes home smiling.
Contact Jimmy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.