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Their Mission: Making Memories

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Zany hoops ambassadors bring their game to the metro area for two games this weekend

GLOBETROTTERS

I had seen them before, in fact a number of times. But on this occasion, being about 8 or 9 years old, the Harlem Globetrotters got my dander up.

“Those Globetrotters, they’re cheating!” I told my dad.

Harlem Globetrotters
Saturday: Santa Ana Star Center, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $23. Phone: 888-694-4849
Website: comcastTIX.com; harlemglobetrotters.com

Sunday: The Pit, 1 p.m.
Tickets: $22. Phone: 505-925-5626
Website: unmtickets.com; harlemglobetrotters.com 

He would chuckle and tell me, “that’s part of the show,” then point out an incredible Curly Neal dribbling exhibition or amusing Meadowlark Lemon stunt.

It didn’t take long until I realized: This time, the final score really didn’t matter. This time, it was truly about how you play the game.

And man, could they play.

Still can.

While the Globetrotters don’t have the household names of yesteryear, the name of their game is still the same. Has been for much of the past 87 years.

“We’re still about having a good time and providing family-fun entertainment,” says Harlem Globetrotters veteran Flight Time Lang. “My thing is, when people come, I just try to make sure they had a great time.

“With the tradition that we have, people who saw the Globetrotters when they were young are bringing their kids now, and they want to be able to share some of the same memories that they shared with their parents when they were growing up. We want to make sure we can bridge those gaps with their kids. In most cases, that’s what happens.”

The ‘Trotters will try to make that happen twice in the Albuquerque area this weekend when they showcase their blend of athleticism, theater, comedy and basketball wizardry.

On Saturday, they play at Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Center at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, they take the floor at the Pit at 1 p.m. Global Select is the opponent for both contests.

By the way, how about a little trivia? Can you name the five Globetrotters to have had their number retired?

(Answers below).

Talented trio

The Globetrotters have three touring teams, but Lang isn’t on the one playing here this weekend. However, he says all three teams have the same type of show and talent, and the group in town is sure to dazzle.

“We’ve got a great group of guys coming in,” says Lang, a ‘Trotter for 14 years. “We’ve got Dizzy (Grant), he’s one of our most popular players. He’s done a lot of videos on YouTube doing impersonations. And our showman, Hi-Lite Bruton, who’s been on the team for about 12 years, and Hacksaw Hall – he’s one of the dunkers – are on the team. There are just a bunch of great, athletic guys.”

Others scheduled to play here this weekend are: Ant Atkinson, Prince Johnson, Mighty Mitchell (one of three females with the Globetrotters), Cheese Chisholm and Quake Milum.

While the performances are similar at every ‘Trotters show, something that has changed this year are the rules. OK, those are always a bit loose in these contests – just ask the longtime cannon fodder Washington Generals – but this year they are really a different set of standards at each performance.

The theme of the 270-game global tour is “You Write the Rules.”

Fans can go to the website, harlemglobetrotters.com, and vote on certain rules for each game. Prior to the fourth quarter of each game, fans vote by applause for the rules of the final period.

“It’s almost impossible to prepare for, but we’re the Globetrotters, so we try to do things other teams don’t do,” says Lang, who has appeared on a number of TV shows including “The Amazing Race” and “The Bachelorette.”

“It makes it more fun and more unpredictable.”

In a past game, the fans wanted two balls on the court at once.

The Globetrotters have always made the crowd part of the show, and the 36-year-old Lang says that’s one of the things he most remembers.

“Back in the day, you’d see Curly Neal and Meadowlark, and they were always pulling kids and adults onto the court,” Lang says. “It’s a hands-on thing, and it’s what makes us so unique. That’s one of the biggest things I’ll always remember (at) those games from when I was a kid.”

And scoreboard aside, so will I.

Trivia answers: Wilt Chamberlain (13), Marques Haynes (20), Meadowlark Lemon (36), Reece “Goose” Tatum (50) and Fred “Curly” Neal (22).
— This article appeared on page D2 of the Albuquerque Journal

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