… Oh yeah, and basketball, too!

Harlem Globetrotters return to Nutter Center

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Harlem Globetrotter forward Alex “Moose” Weakes

As much as things change in the world, it’s sometimes nice to have an old throwback that stays pretty much the same, even after the span of decades. One such entity is the world traveled and world famous Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. Formed in Illinois in the 1920s, this exhibition basketball team has trotted nationally and internationally for nearly a century in some form or another, and show no signs of waning popularity, or stopping, any time soon.

Perhaps part of their ongoing appeal is that you don’t even need to be a basketball fan to enjoy their games. Their patented displays of incredible athleticism, which includes trick shots, gravity-defying slam dunks and other unthinkable feats of basketball-handling wizardry can amaze even people who have no interest in the sport.

“I’m mostly known for those rim-wrecking, high-flying dunks”, the 6’8”, third-season Harlem Globetrotter forward Alex “Moose” Weakes said. “And of course for having the best hair in the business, also known as ‘The Hair Up There.’”

The playful manner in which Weakes speaks of his accolades in the Harlem Globetrotters plays up the funny, pure entertainment aspect of what they do. The Globetrotters are never short on spots of slapstick comedy that any human with an active funny bone can appreciate. That, along with the ridiculous basketball tricks and feats the Globetrotters are known for might explain their enduring, lasting universal appeal – it is a fun, light hearted performance that the whole family can enjoy. Audiences from little kids to full grown adults can appreciate what these multi-talented athletes and entertainers do, and that might be key to why they’re still trotting the globe nearly 100 years into their existence and bringing smiles to the faces of fans everywhere they go.

“To enjoy a Harlem Globetrotter game, you need not be a fan of basketball,” Weakes said. “Just be prepared to have a great time! There will be breathtaking displays of athleticism. You can see one of our three female players, Sweet J, rain down 4-point shots from 35 feet out, that’s 12 feet behind the three-point line! Most importantly, fans should expect the unexpected – anything can happen!”

And while it might be all fun and games on the court, there is serious responsibility to what Weakes and the rest of the Harlem Globetrotters do off the court. The players and the Globetrotters organization are dedicated to community outreach, volunteering and educating young boys and girls stateside and beyond not just in basketball but in other aspects of growing up. According to Weakes, being a Harlem Globetrotter goes way beyond just being an entertainer and athlete.

“As Globetrotters, we believe that our best work is done in our communities,” Weakes said. “We take extreme pride in giving back. A lot of us come from humble beginnings and understand the importance of educating our youth on important issues and subjects they may be dealing with, or simply being there in a time of need to spread glad tidings. We put on clinics every summer for kids ages 6-12. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to help develop the skills of young basketball players. We have fun, we work hard and together, and we also as introduce the kids to some of our character building programs like C.H.E.E.R. For Character, and ‘The ABCs of Bullying Prevention.’

“As a child, watching them on ‘Scooby Doo,’ I had no idea about the many ways that the Globetrotters give back,” Weakes continued. “It’s very important to uphold the rich history by continuing on as goodwill ambassadors, whether it is putting smiles on sick children’s faces at hospitals with our Smile Patrol, and finding other ways to give back to communities around the globe. I’m a part of something so much bigger than myself. As a Globetrotter, I can make a positive and effective impact on people’s lives.”

The Harlem Globetrotters will momentarily halt their globe to play a game against their arch enemies, The Washington Generals, in what has become a yearly New Year’s Eve tradition at the Ervin J. Nutter Center here in Dayton. Attendees can witness all the new stunts and hijinx of Harlem’s Fab Five that are sure to impress both newbies and long time fans alike.

“Come ring in the new year with us and create memories with your loved ones that will last a lifetime!” Weakes said. “Everyone has a Harlem Globetrotters story … what will yours be?”

The Harlem Globetrotters will play the Washington Generals next Wednesday, Dec. 31 at the Ervin J. Nutter Center, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy, in Fairborn. The game begins at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $20-100. For more information, please visit harlemglobetrotters.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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