By: Erin Callahan – Chief A&E Writer
After 89 years and 20,000 games, the Harlem Globetrotters are internationally known for pairing basketball with comedic entertainment, including skillful dribbling and passing, trick shots, spinning basketballs on their fingertips and plenty of fan interaction.
On Dec. 31 at 2 p.m., they will face the Washington Generals at the Nutter Center for a night of family fun. This will be their 15th consecutive New Year’s Eve game in Dayton.
The roster features Big Easy Lofton, Ant Atkinson, Hi-Lite Bruton, Thunder Law, Bull Bullard, Firefly Fisher and Moose Weekes – plus female stars TNT Maddox, T-Time Brawner and Sweet J Ekworomadu.
Scooter Christensen, a guard who has played for the Globetrotters for 10 years, promises fans an experience unlike any other – whether you’re eight years old, or 80.
The New Year’s Eve game is part of the Globetrotters’ “Washington Generals Revenge” tour. This is the first time they’ve played the Generals in five years, and they plan to continue their winning streak that has lasted half a century.
They will rise to the challenge with quick feet and coordination – nearly every player has a basketball record to their name – and with a bond that goes deeper than “team.”
“We’re gone from home six to eight months out of the year, so we’re with each other more than we are with our own families,” Christensen said. “So in a way they are like my second family.”
The team has traveled to over 100 countries and experienced once-in-a-lifetime opportunities over the years. Christensen recalls his most memorable moment playing on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean.
Christensen also recollects the military tour spent in Iraq and Baghdad and is reminded of it often.
During every one of the 310-plus games played in North America during the “Washington Generals Revenge” tour, the team honors a Harlem Globetrotters Hometown Hero. This is an active, wounded or retired member of the military nominated by fans who has made their community proud with their brave service and exemplary character, according to a press release. The team also plays a portion of each game with a camouflage basketball to show respect.
“The hero receives a standing ovation every single night,” Christensen said. “It exhilarates them, and it gives us a chance to thank them for their services. Anytime we do that it takes me back to our military tour, when we were able to give the men and women a break to watch us play. They would ask where we’re from, and if any of us were from the same town, it felt like they knew you or were automatically closer to you.”
Due to the amount of traveling, the players rely on Skype and phone calls to remain close to their families back home. In the off-season, the team family goes bowling and tries their voices at karaoke bars. Christensen said he thinks he could speak for the team when he says, beyond the game, the camaraderie is what they’ll remember most when their time with the Globetrotters is finished.
“My favorite part of being on the team: I really enjoy my teammates,” Christensen said. “This has by far been the best basketball experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve been playing since I was five years old. Each step on the journey has been a joy.”
For more information on the Harlem Globetrotters or to purchase tickets, visit harlemglobetrotters.com.