The Harlem Globetrotters will be in Music City for a game at the Bridgestone Arena on Friday January 15, 2016 starting at 7 p.m. They are also celebrating 90 years of ball handling wizardry. The globally recognized basketball team will be on a world tour during the first half of 2016 dazzling fans with their unique style of athleticism, comedy and theater. Over the years various incarnations of the Globetrotters have played more than 20,000 games in 120 countries. The team’s signature song is Brother Bones’ whistled version of “Sweet Georgia Brown”.
In addition to attending a Globetrotters’ game there are a number of tickets options. The Magic Pass is a pre-game opportunity for fans to learn tricks, shoot hoops and meet the stars. A Bench Experience includes a spot on the sidelines with the players. The Globetrotters are also Ambassadors of Goodwill supporting a number of organizations along with their own “The Great Assist” outreach programs. Team members work in communities to prevent bullying, promote fitness, build homes and more.
Per the Globetrotters website – “Among the players who have been Globetrotters are NBA greats Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, Connie “The Hawk” Hawkins, and Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton as well as Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon, Jerome James, Reece “Goose” Tatum, and Hubert “Geese” Ausbie. Another popular team member in the 1970s and 1980s was Fred “Curly” Neal, who was the best dribbler of that era of the team’s history and was immediately recognizable owing to his shaven head. Baseball Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins also played for the team at one time or another. In 1985, the Globetrotters signed their first female player, Olympic gold medalist Lynette Woodard.”
The Globetrotters have been featured in films and on TV shows. The team was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in honor of their entertainment value and the Globetrotters were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. So come celebrate 90 years of entertainment and expertise when the Globetrotters come to your town.
Sports reporters Rich and Laura Lynch got to spend a few minutes catching up with current Globetrotters’ forward and Guinness World Records(r) record-holder Zeus McClurkin to ask him what tricks him and the team have up their sleeve when they visit Music City.
MCN: We were sad to hear of the recent passing of the legendary “Meadowlark” Lemon. Together with teammates like Curly Neal, Twiggy Sanders, Marques Haynes and “Geese” Ausbie he helped the Globetrotters become a household name. How large do these iconic players of the 70’s and 80’s loom over the legacy of the current team?
ZM: In my eyes, Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal, and the others are true trailblazers in the game of basketball. I have the opportunity to play all over the world. Meadowlark Lemon is an especially important Globetrotter in my life both on and off the court. Many people may not know that Meadowlark was also a minister and highly involved in his church, as am I.
MCN: Nine famous personalities have been named honorary members of the Harlem Globetrotters and they are: Henry Kissinger, Bob Hope, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Whoopi Goldberg, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Pope John Paul II, Jesse Jackson and Pope Francis. Of these, who would you want to get the ball to with the game on the line?
ZM: Pope Francis, because it helps to have God on your side when shooting the last shot!
MCN: How does one become a Harlem Globetrotter?
ZM: The Globetrotters have scouts that go out like any other professional team and they find talent and invite them to training camp.
MCN: What is the average career span of a Harlem Globetrotter?
ZM: It varies, however one receives their “Legacy Ring” after 5 years of touring. This is not a common accomplishment. It’s a huge honor.
MCN: I’ve played and observed enough basketball to know that getting the ball through the hoop isn’t always easy. Yet, the Harlem Globetrotters are known for making even the longest and most ridiculous looking shots consistently and effortlessly. How do you do it?
ZM: Easy…. Magic. (no really its practice. We are playing over 320 games in over 250 cities this year. That’s a lot of practice shots.)
MCN: How often are new “tricks” invented?
ZM: Globetrotters are always trying to find new things to do with a basketball just by nature. Personally I love spinning the ball and try to spin it on as many objects as possible. When I graduated with my Master’s degree I spun a ball on my diploma. We don’t necessary try to invent new tricks, Globetrotters are innovative players who love the sport of basketball. Our innovation comes from the love of the game.
MCN: The Harlem Globetrotters now have enough players to field three separate teams. Is there any intra-squad rivalries on a game-to-game basis?
ZM: We all have the same mission… making families smile and putting on an entertaining game of basketball. Our competitive nature comes out from time to time, and we see who can hit the furthest shot. Eventually this turns into one of us breaking a Guinness World record, which we have several of that can be viewed at HarlemGlobetrotters.com
MCN: In 1985, Lynette Woodard made headlines for becoming the first female player with the Harlem Globetrotters. Now, there’s a woman on the floor at every performance. What perspective does a member of the opposite sex bring to the game?
ZM: It is great having more women on the team, which is another way in which the Globetrotters have demonstrated innovation in the sport of basketball. I have several nieces who all play sports and I love that they can come support me at a game and see another woman on the court. It shows them that they really can be like their Uncle Zeus when they grow up.
MCN: The Harlem Globetrotters are known the world over as traveling entertainers wearing the uniform of basketball players. Do you consider yourself an athlete first and foremost or is there an equal amount of comedic, theatrical and performance skill on display when you take the court?
ZM: Great basketball players are great athletes, but every athlete does not have that special Globetrotter charm. It takes a special kind of athlete to embody both of these qualities. You need both the athleticism and the personality to be a Globetrotter. You can teach anyone to play basketball but can’t teach anyone the Globetrotter charm and showmanship.
MCN: Are there any Globetrotter traditions that date back to the team’s inception in 1926?
ZM: Our water and confetti bucket have become staples over the last 90 years. In addition to that high-flying dunks, shots, and crowd participation that is unrivaled in all of sports will be on full display.
MCN: The celebration for the 90th Anniversary of the Harlem Globetrotters is being called the team’s most extensive and impressive tour de force to date. Have you heard of any plans being drawn up yet for the milestone 100th season in 2026?
ZM: It’ll be big, greatest celebration to date. One thing that I know we’re going to try to do is to spread a million smiles by our 100 season. This Feat will be accomplished through the “Great Assist” initiative. The Great Assist encourages fans to suggest worthwhile causes around the world. Anywhere that the Globetrotters can be of assistance and a smile is needed we will do our best to be there. Whether it’s speaking to children at schools about the ABCs of bullying prevention, or going on smile patrol at local children’s hospitals. No frown is safe when the Harlem Globetrotters are around.