Archive for Thursday, January 14, 2010

Trotters still entertaining

January 14, 2010

We have all heard the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” which was certainly true on a frigid Saturday in early January when I took my three youngest grandsons to see the Harlem Globetrotters at the Sprint Center. In general, the Globetrotters follow a script similar to what they have done for decades, and it is still funny.

I have probably seen the Globetrotters six or seven times over the past 40 plus years, and I guess I’m still kid enough to enjoy their slapstick humor and to marvel at their ability to handle a basketball. The Globetrotters provide an extremely enjoyable performance, which is “PG” rated. Their humor, as has been the case through the years, is suitable for persons of all ages.

The first time I saw the Trotters was in the late 1960s at Municipal Auditorium. As far as I can remember, uniforms haven’t changed and their opponents, who have played under a variety of names, remain hapless straight men.

In earlier years, the Trotters’ inept opponents were coached by Red Klotz, a short set-shot artist. This time the foe was the Washington Generals and their coach was much more of a participant than I remembered from earlier performances. The visiting coach spent a lot of time “hypnotizing” the Globetrotters who played predictable, yet funny, pranks.

As always , the Globetrotters are led by the “Clown Prince of Basketball.” That title has been held by some of the greatest entertainers. This time, the title is held by “Big Easy” Lofton who played basketball for Southeast Louisiana. The 6-feet-9 comedian and his sidekick “Flightime” added to the Globetrotter mystic by taking part in the popular TV show, “The Great Race.”

I didn’t realize this, but the team was originally the “Chicago Globetrotters” when they were started by Abe Saperstein in the 1920s. The team barnstormed through the Midwest, and Saperstein, a savvy promoter, decided to change the name to “Harlem Globetrotters” in 1929. It wasn’t long before the Globetrotters were a household name. At one time they played serious basketball and posted wins over early NBA teams, most notably the highly regarded Minneapolis Lakers. They also scrimmaged U.S. Olympic teams and played exhibitions against college teams.

The Globetrotters have, according to their Web site, played more than 250,000 games. They have entertained throughout the world and had dignitary guests including the pope and European royalty in addition to political leaders in the U.S.

The Globetrotter roster has included such greats as Goose Tatum, Meadowlark Lemon, Curley Neal, Sweetwater Clifton just to name a few. There is no doubt that the Globetrotters changed basketball and what they started is still part of the game.

While it is hard to find the exact statistics, all the sources I discovered point out that the Trotters have lost an occasional game. However, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t go to their games to see real basketball, I go for the entertainment.

No matter your age, you never hear the song “Sweet Georgia Brown” without thinking about the Globetrotters magic circle. The program, which lasts about two hours, is a great mix of jokes, slam dunks and trick shots.

Ticket prices are reasonable by modern standards. I paid $23 for seats on the corners. However, since the house wasn’t anywhere near full, the ushers announced that those sitting on the corners and the end could move to any vacant courtside seat. Now that is something you rarely see in pro sports.

We had a great time and I really enjoyed watching three young men laughing at the same tricks their mother, her sisters and cousins had enjoyed years ago. I would really like to be able to enjoy them again with great-grandchildren.

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