Decked out in star-studded blue jerseys and outrageous red and white striped shorts, and grooving to “Sweet Georgia Brown,” The Harlem Globetrotters captivated a crowd of Cornell students and local residents last night at Newman Arena with their antics and performance against the New York Nationals.
As Esther Livingstone ’04 said, “It’s not your usual basketball game.”
“Big Ticket,” “Wild Thing,” “Showbiz,” and the rest of the Globetrotters put on a show that was part-sport, part-comedy and part-theater and had Newman Arena ringing with the screeching of hundreds of starry-eyed kids, stamping their feet and clapping their hands to every move.
Although most of the stands were filled with local families, those Cornell students who came out to see the Globies cheered along with the younger fans.
“Our friend says it’s something you have to do before you die, so it’s one more thing to check off the list,” said Kate Macmillan ’04.
Last night’s performance was the second time seeing the Globetrotters for Destiny Raniere ’03.
“It’s awesome that they’re here, but it’s not quite as miraculous as when [I was] little,” she said.
Eight-year-old Lydia Warkentin, who also “saw them when [she] was real little,” had her own perception of the show.
“They’re cheating a lot if they’re playing a real game, [because] the other team is just bad,” she said.
The “other team” — the New York Nationals — had much fanfare with which to compete.
The Globetrotters started off the show with an unbelievable over-the-shoulder shot from half court by the team’s court jester, Matt “Showbiz” Jackson. Warm-up was a series of flawless Globetrotter slam dunks and suspicious National misses.
“[The Nationals] look like they’re trying real hard, and they still suck,” said William Romanoff ’03.
The Nationals replaced the Globetrotters’ long-standing opponents, the Washington Generals, to play the Globetrotters in most of their performances. The Nationals are a separate organization, and the Globetrotters officially state that the competition is genuine.
“They are real basketball games,” state the Globetrotters on their website, harlemglobetrotters.com. “In fact, a person attending a Harlem Globetrotters game would be surprised by a hard-fought competitive game for the first 15 to 20 minutes, as the Globetrotters establish the tone of the game. Fans will see the show antics once the team has opened a safe lead of 10 to 15 points.”
Last night, true to form, the Globetrotters won the game 88 to 56.
“At times it seems like its real; at times it doesn’t,” Erin McDonald ’04 said, as the Globetrotters progressed toward another victory.
The team has amassed over 20,000 victories.
Much to the amusement of the crowd, “Showbiz” Jackson flagrantly staged many of the antics during the show. He was fitted with a microphone and was constantly interrupting play, arguing with the referee, bringing fans onto the court, and maintaining his 14-year reign as the team’s head jester.
Jackson started off the game with the quip, “I got the big white dude” as he guarded one of the National’s players.
Following “Showbiz’s” lead, the Globetrotters stripped down to their jerseys by simultaneously ripping off their warm-up pants at half court. Then they stopped play to perform a dance routine as Mystikal played over the speakers. They also blew kisses to the Channel 7 news camera, acted out an “instant replay rewind,” and performed the YMCA during the game.
This year’s tour is the 75th year that the Globetrotters have twisted, turned, juggled, dunked, slid, and publicly stripped for a total of 120 million fans over the Globetrotters history. Originally formed as an early evening attraction at a dance club, the Globetrotters played their first official game in 1927 to a crowd of 300 in Hinckley, Ill.
Archived article by April Sommer