Watching an acrobatic comedy troupe of pro basketball players may sound crazy to some, but Harlem Globetrotters player Julian “Zeus” McClurkin says it’s fun for everyone.
“We’re focused on putting smiles on people’s faces,” the second-year Globetrotter said. “That’s what sets us apart from other professional teams. It’s not just a game or about winning and losing. It’s about entertainment. Even if you don’t follow basketball at all, you’ll have a great time.”
On Friday, March 25, at 7 p.m., the legendary exhibition basketball team is bringing its family-oriented show to the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
At the show, the superhero-esque Globetrotters compete (and customarily win) against their not-so-dazzling traveling opponent, the World All-Stars.
They use the backdrop of the game to show off incredible feats of agility and skill. Spectators may see high-flying slam dunks, half-court trick shots, ball-spinning, -rolling and -balancing tricks, nifty passing and dribbling routines and more.
In addition to their physical stunts, the Globetrotters engage in family-friendly comedy skits like embarrassing the referee, chasing each other with buckets of water, pantsing a player in the middle of a free throw and other slapstick shenanigans.
Usually the team calls on a few kids to join them on the court for a short skit or activity. After the show, there’s an opportunity to meet the players and get autographs and photos with them. For families that want a more personal experience, there’s the Magic Pass, a VIP pre-game event where kids can hang out with the Globetrotters on the court and shoot hoops, learn tricks and get autographs and photos.
Even though they’re an exhibition team, Globetrotters players are drafted much the same way players for competitive teams are. What’s different about the Globetrotters, however, is that they look beyond athletic skill when choosing new players.
“You do have to be a great player, but you also have to be a good person and enjoy entertaining,” McClurkin said. “I didn’t always have the best basketball record. I got criticized for being too nice and smiling and enjoying myself too much. But playing for the Globetrotters, I get paid to be that nice person and smile on court.”
Most Globetrotters players are record-holders of some kind. McClurkin currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most basketball slam dunks in one minute. Some of the star players scheduled to play at the Verizon show are Ant Atkinson, who, along with fellow player Cheese Chisholm, broke the Guinness World Record for the most three-pointers made by a pair in one minute; Thunder Law, who set the Guinness World Records for longest basketball shot, longest basketball shot blindfolded, and farthest basketball shot made backward; and Sweet J Ekworomadu, one of the Globetrotters’ three female players, who set the school record for the most three-pointers during her senior year at Texas State University.
The Verizon show is one of 330 to be played in 260 cities during the Globetrotters’ 2016 World Tour. This year, the team also celebrates its 90th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone and pay tribute to the Globetrotters who came before them, all players will wear white throwback uniforms from the early 1940s during the first half of each game.
“There’s a lot of nostalgia we carry,” McClurkin said. “Everywhere we go, there’s people who recognize who we are and have a memory of the Globetrotters, and it brings them back to a happy time in their life. They know that if I’m playing for the Globetrotters, I must be a cool guy, and that’s the best.”