Harlem Globetrotters in Troy

Sable Riley

Staff Writer

The Harlem Globetrotters brought their show and tricks to Trojan Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 12 as part of their tour celebrating their 90th anniversary.

The Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team that have performed in six continents and 122 countries around the world. 

They are famous for their unique brand of comedy, advanced ball-handling abilities, crowd involvement in their performance and global philanthropy.

Currently, the team is partnered with a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organization called World Vision.

The Globetrotters encouraged attendees of the event last night to visit a booth where they could sign up to sponsor an impoverished child in another country through World Vision. Their goal for the night was to sponsor 90 children around the globe.

More information can be found about sponsoring a child on their website WorldVision.org

The activities began with a pre-game event that began at 5 p.m. called Magic Pass. Fans were able to get one-on-one time with their favorite Globetrotter.

Attendees could get autographs, take photographs, dribble, learn a trick, dress up, see how high they could jump and even shoot baskets with one of the Globetrotters.

A merchandise booth was set up for the duration of the event so fans could purchase commemorative Harlem Globetrotter jerseys, t-shirts and basketballs.

Jeremy McClain, Troy University’s athletic director, collaborated with other departments in Troy to prepare for the event Tuesday night.

McClain said that he had seen the show before and expected a good turnout and a great family show, and that’s exactly what happened.

“Lots of kids left with smiles on their faces, and that’s definitely what we wanted to accomplish,” McClain said.

The exhibition game– the main event– began at 7 p.m.

In honor of the team’s 90th anniversary, team members sported throwback uniforms that have been featured in New York’s fashion week.   

The Globetrotters involved members of the crowd in various aspects of the game.

Audience members were pulled from their seats to participate in musical chairs, dance competitions, attempt free throw and 3-point shots, and play the game alongside the Globetrotters. One crowd member also received some marriage advice.

Globie, the Harlem Globetrotter’s mascot since 1993, and Globie’s big brother, Big G, made an appearance on the court as well.

Bailey Sutton, a sophomore collaborative education major from Homewood, attended the game.

“I was just expecting a show, really cool tricks and a lot of crowd involvement,” Sutton said.

“It exceeded my expectations. It was very entertaining, and it was definitely a great experience.”

The Harlem Globetrotters performed many tricks during the game including numerous slam-dunks and 4-point shots.

“Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to be a professional athlete,” said Johnny Hawk Thomas, a Harlem Globetrotter better known as “The Hawk” from Raleigh, North Carolina.

Thomas said that his brother taught him how to play basketball after he was injured playing football and his mother would not allow him to play anymore.

“From there, I excelled,” Thomas said. “I had the opportunity to play with many professional teams.

“When I thought it was over and was about to hang things up, I had the opportunity to play with the Harlem Globetrotters. They flew me out to Houston.

“We had a great time, and I’ve been with them ever since,” Thomas said.

When Thomas is not being a Harlem Globetrotter, he said he enjoys drawing and making furniture. Thomas and his wife own a furniture business back home.

While Thomas said making furniture relaxes him, he always misses being on the court.

“We’re ambassadors of good will. Wherever we go, we try to encourage smiles,” Thomas said.

“We love to brighten up kids’ days; to spin a ball on your finger, show you some tricks, just so you can get a taste of what it’s like to be a Harlem Globetrotter.”

Thomas said that he wants to inspire kids and be a good role model.

“When you see the Harlem Globetrotters– when you see The Hawk flying through the air– you can expect a great guy, a smart guy and a guy who is going to stand up for those around him,” Thomas said.

The Harlem Globetrotters started the Great Assist initiative in 2016.

Globetrotters said they’re urging fans to nominate someone who is struggling or just having a bad day so Globetrotters can visit that person and try to brighten up their day.

A live autograph session was held after the game for audience members to get a picture or an autograph from their favorite globetrotter. 

More information about the Harlem Globetrotters and the Great Assist initiative can be found at harlemglobetrotters.com.

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