You don’t have to follow the Harlem Globetrotters or even be a basketball fan to enjoy their shows, which are filled with acrobatic basketball tricks, comedy skits and more.
The comedic entertainment-oriented basketball team will be stopping at the SNHU Arena on Friday, March 31, as part of its current tour, playing an exhibition game against its traveling opponent, the World All Stars. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
The Globetrotters are currently playing their 91st consecutive season and have racked up several Guinness World Records for basketball over the years.
“What we do is focus basketball with entertainment,” said Harlem Globetrotters player Orlando “El Gato” Melendez, the first and only Puerto Rican-born player in the team’s history. “We used to play competitively, but [the shows] have sort of evolved into what you see nowadays.”
Globetrotters players use each game to show off acrobatic basketball tricks they rigorously practice, which may include shots from half-court, slam dunks, alley-oop dunks, ball-spinning tricks and more. This is also the first season the Globetrotters are debuting the four-point line shot — behind the traditional NBA free throw line and about 30 feet from the basket — which will be integrated with some of their tricks.
But the shows are about more than acrobatic basketball techniques. Melendez said short family-friendly comedic skits like players pantsing each other in the middle of free throws, chasing the referee around and other mischievous behaviors can also be expected, and you never know what you might see at each individual show.
“The comedy always happens while we’re playing,” Melendez said. “[Players] might even go off the court and interact with people and kids in the stands, so it’s really cool.”
Usually at some point during the show, players will invite kids in the audience to join them on the court for a closer view at some of their tricks, and even to participate in a short activity or shot.
Among the world records some of the current team players hold are the longest basketball hook shot, recorded at 72 feet by Nathaniel “Big Easy” Lofton, the longest basketball shot while blindfolded, recorded at 73 feet by Anthony “Ant” Atkinson, and the most individual basketball slam dunks in one minute, with 16, by Julian “Zeus” McClurkin. The team as a whole has claimed 15 Guinness World Records since the year 2000.
“We’re always open to trying new things. … We’re trying to break the record for the highest shot in North America,” Melendez said. “When I first went to training camp, I didn’t know any of the tricks, but you get together with some of the older players and work on the basic routines to get the flow of things, and you practice and eventually get better.”
This year’s show in Manchester is one of more than 250 planned for the 2017 tour, in more than 30 countries worldwide. Melendez said the team regularly appears at hospitals and charitable events with other organizations.
“We really enjoy building experiences that people can share from generation to generation, from bringing their kids, to their grandchildren, and even in some cases their great-grandchildren,” Melendez said.