The Harlem Globetrotters are more than just a basketball team. The sporting franchise has been captivating audiences since the 1920s with its unique mix of professionalism, skill, charity and comedy. Even though there’s a new “Ace” in town, the Windsor event at the WFCU Centre on Thursday, April 13 was no different – it was a night of family fun and bonding.
The Globetrotters were a big part of my growing up in Scarborough in the 1970s. As a young pre-teen urbanite, I was drawn to the sport and played a semi-organized version of the game in various schoolyards until I was old enough to join my high school team in the 80s. I fondly remember going to the Globetrotters with my parents at Maple Leaf Gardens were I was able to watch Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal spin the ball on their fingers, shoot with magical skill, slam dunk with ease and fly around the court like red, white and blue superheroes.
It’s incredible to watch the Globetrotters still accomplish that same magic about 40 years later. Although the players were different than my 1970s memory version, the hijinks and action was right on par. In fact, this modern Globetrotter version was probably even more fun than I remember – with plenty of local children on the court for various skits during the game, to a mock wedding with one very lucky lady in the audience. The half time show even featured a couple teams of local dancers.
Lead by the comedic Anthony “Ant” Atkinson and crazy-haired Alex “Moose” Weekes, the team goofed around and played practical jokes for most of the 40 minutes of regulation time, although there were amazing bouts of basketball play interspersed throughout.
The standout on the team was the stunning Crissa “Ace” Jackson, who is only the 13th female to ever play with the franchise. Ace brought a whole new dimension to the game. While each and every Globetrotter seemed to be enjoying themselves, Ace passionately loved every minute of being on the team and you could see it in her eyes and her bright smile. She is truly an inspiration for every young girl, teen and woman who has ever had a dream.
Ace was a joy to watch as she slid across the floor and took part in many of the major plays and antics throughout the game. At one point she even took a seat on the basketball net to stop the ball from going in. And of course, the only way to get down was for her to jump in a “net” the boys made out of towels. Needless to say, she safely landed the jump and continued to play.
Watching the Globetrotters isn’t like watching an actual NBA game, its more sports entertainment in the same school as WWE, but without the violence. Having them have to win the game against the evil World All-Stars so they could stick around to sign autographs is about as serious as this game gets. And yes, that’s the way we want it.
Every kid should get to see the Harlem Globetrotters at least once in their life. It’s a time-tested tradition – family friendly, still a giant barrel of laughs and ultimately an amazing inspiration in a mind–numbing world full of cell phones, tablets and the Internet.
Photo from the Harlem Globetrotters website by Chris Davis.