Harlem Globetrotters bring skills, show to region

By DENNIS D. CRUZ
For nearly a century, the Harlem Globetrotters have been entertaining at sold out arenas around the world. In their 91st season, the beloved basketball franchise will be coming to Northern California for four appearances in January.

Shows are scheduled for Jan. 15 at the SAP Center in San Jose, Jan. 16 at the new Golden 1 Center in Sacramento and Jan. 19 at the Stockton Arena.

The historic basketball team will bring their familiar red, white and blue jerseys and their amazing trick shots and impressive dunks to the area for people of all ages. Over the years the team has been featured on cartoons, television shows and as guests on late night talk shows.

“I love the Globetrotters. I think that everyone loves them. Everybody has a favorite team, and they’re all different. However, one team everyone can agree on is the Globetrotters,” fan Peter Hayes of Ceres said when he heard the team was making the local appearances.

Once a competitive basketball team for the ABA, today’s team is strictly for show and entertainment.

“I played pro ball all around the world, for the CBA, the NBA Development League and even in Europe before I joined the Globetrotters. They put me on a workout and gave me a 10-day tryout, but they signed me six days into it,” said Anthony “Buckets” Blake, a guard on the team. “I have been a Globetrotter for 15 seasons.”

The nickname Buckets came from his accuracy, as he holds the Guinness World Record for the most basketball underhanded half-court shots in one minute. Buckets is known for his long distance shots, in fact, the showman seemingly has no limits of range. In March 2016, Buckets made a shot while elevated 300 feet in the air in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

“I make shots off of arena building roofs, inside the arenas I make shots off the catwalks in the upper deck levels, but this past spring I was in the Atlanta area and went to Stone Mountain. They took me up the lift, and it was windy, a bit scary to be honest, they had me in a harness so I felt safe, but I drained the shot and it was awesome,” Buckets said. “It was a great feeling. I am working on a new epic shot, I cannot reveal it yet, but it is coming.”

There are 24 members on the team and three coaches who help make the Globetrotters a successful and fun group to watch, each bringing a variety of talent and personality to the team. Two of the Globetrotters are women. “TNT” Lister is the first female to play for the team since 1993, and has been with the team since 2011. Fellow female teammate “Ace” Jackson is a former NCAA Division I basketball standout at Savannah State University. The team is also full of size as “Big Easy” stands a towering 6-feet-9 and is one of four on the team that stand over 6 feet, 5 inches tall. Coaching the team are former Globetrotter greats Barry “High Rise” Hardy, Jimmy Blacklock and “Sweet Lou” Dunbar.

“We are all a piece of the Globetrotter puzzle. Everyone brings something to the table. Our coaches played for the franchise and know what it means to be a Globetrotter and that makes it special too,” Buckets said.

The Globetrotters will be performing trick shots, lightning quick dribbles and passes at their Northern California shows, but they will not be the only ones asked to perform.

“One of my favorite things about playing is the audience participation. We try to get everybody involved, does not matter if you’re seven or 74,” added Buckets. “It is great to see the fans and we all have so much fun performing. Following each show, we as a team take the time to meet all of our fans and their families. The history of the Harlem Globetrotters is iconic and I think that’s because we care so much about the fans and make sure they get their money’s worth at each show.”

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