January 25, 2011
ESPN2 has been showing this Harlem Globetrotters game against the Washington Generals recently. They have quite a few innovations since I last saw them (on the roof of the Spectrum, in March 20091): A four-point shot2, a penalty box3, among other things. And now they also play football! For those of you who don’t have YouTube at work, let me summarize this video for you: The Globetrotters bring the ball up the court when suddenly the Monday Night Football theme plays. The ‘Trotters huddle up and plan a football play (with the basketball). For some reason, however, one of the Globetrotters (Sarge) decides to interrupt the snap count by doing some karate. Then Hi Rise decides to start dancing. After he’s done, Firefly starts dancing. Then the PA plays a cover of “Apache” and almost the entire Globetrotter team does the Jump on It Dance from Fresh Prince.

After all that’s settled, the Globetrotter playing the football team’s center (Dizzy) pulls out a wolf mask and dances like he’s in the “Thriller” video, then returns to snap the ball. He then farts4. Finally, Special K5 throws a touchdown pass. The Globetrotters fake the extra point and toss it to Special K, standing in the four-point circle, who hits a 40-foot hook shot to end the segment.

The Harlem Globetrotters may well be the greatest touring show in the world right now. Maybe ever.

1 That story never ran. Let me write about it a little here: There were supposed to be a bunch of kids on the roof, but because a show (Sesame Street Live, I think) had things attached to the Spectrum ceiling, the roof couldn’t support all that weight. So the kids didn’t get to watch from the roof. The only group of people up there were the Globetrotters, the Generals and the local media.

What was great about the game the Globetrotters did their usual shtick for an audience of, essentially, no one. It was an amazing absurd theatre, with the ‘Trotters doing routines for 20 media members so that maybe 15 seconds could be shown on the local news. It was incredible.

2 Shooting from either of a pair of circles positioned a few feet in front of the half court line nets four points, but only in the last three minutes of the half. At halftime, some Globetrotter official proclaimed the NBA would soon adopt the four-pointer.

3 One of my favorite things about the Globetrotters is how biased the referees are against them. Usually the top teams get referee calls to go their way (this is extremely common in college basketball, where the home team hires the officials). But the only people to go into the penalty box were Globetrotters. Then again, they were the only team to play football, completely strip a player of his clothes when he went for a layup, switch the ball with one filled with helium, throw water and/or confetti on referees, other players and officials, etc. Maybe they deserved it.

4 Just like in Little Giants!

5 Special K is, ostensibly, the Globetrotters’ captain. A native of Panama, he became a U.S. citizen in 2007!