WORCESTER — One of the greatest joys as a parent is to watch your child totally immersed in something they truly enjoy, wonderment written all over their face.
This was my experience taking my basketball-obsessed 7-year-old son Wyatt to see the Harlem Globetrotters last weekend. It was a first for both of us. While I’ve heard plenty over the years about the well-known team, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The energy inside the DCU Center was palpably electric as the Globetrotters took the court for an evening that was all about showmanship and entertaining the crowd. Even if you aren’t a basketball fan per se, there is no doubt you would enjoy the high-energy experience the team members work hard to provide for their audience.
Wyatt’s eyes lit up watching the incredible slam dunks and elaborate ball exchanges between the players. There were several times during the event when we could barely breathe — we were laughing so hard. He chatted nonstop about the game on the way home and we giggled recounting all of the funny moments.
An iconic professional American exhibition basketball team founded in 1926 by Tommy Brookins in Chicago, the Globetrotters are known for combining athleticism, comedy and showmanship in their play. According to Wikipedia they adopted the name Harlem because of its connotations as a major African American community.
They won against their longstanding rival the Washington Generals on Dec. 30, one of the many stops on their 2023 World Tour, but the game was less about the score and more about the theater that took place on the court. Gravity-defying slam dunks, fancy passing, and mind-boggling, impressive ball skills were on display throughout.
Youth of all ages that had a coveted Magic Pass got high fives from several of the players and were able to dribble and shoot with them on the basketball court and snag autographs and photos prior to the game. Thanks to his mom’s press pass and coverage of the game, Wyatt was fortunate enough to experience all of that and the look on his face was pure bliss meeting the players and shooting hoops.
We chatted with some of the families on the court, including Ethan Hunter, 10, of Salisbury and his brother, who both play basketball. They were also thrilled with the pre-game opportunity presented to them and like my son, had big smiles on their faces waiting in line with their mom for autographs.
Some of the players set up a spinning ball on the kids’ fingers, a Globetrotters trademark move, before the team put on an unforgettable show packed with hilarity, pausing play to dance — sometimes with each other, sometimes with audience members — contests and challenges involving the crowd, and more including epic backflips.
At one point early on in the game the team gathered around a youngster and Thunder Law, a Globetrotters showman, reverently lifted him up ala Simba from the “The Lion King” as “The Circle of Life” played on the sound system, drawing raucous laughter from the crowd. The team’s mascot Globie was a big part of the show and during halftime ran around the court doing hilarious stunts including falling flat on his face several times.
The Globetrotters held up their title as the world’s winningest team by once again defeating the Generals, whom they play every game against. According to the Globetrotters website, the Generals have not defeated the Globetrotters in over 50 years in what has become “one of the great non-rivalries in sports.”
The Generals last won against the Globetrotters in 1971, but with only 345 losses over the course of nine decades versus more than 27,000 wins, the Globetrotters claim the best winning percentage in the history of professional sports. They have played in 124 countries and territories and on six continents before 148 million fans, with Antarctica being the only continent they have not brought their skills to.
The team has other stops in Massachusetts including Springfield at the MassMutual Center on Feb. 5 and in Lowell on Feb. 13 at the Tsongas Center.
One of the most famous players in Harlem Globetrotters history, Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, began his professional career in 1958 when the Globetrotters signed the 7-foot-1 tall University of Kansas standout to one of the largest contracts in sports. He played a full season with the team before joining the NBA, where he played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers over his 14-year career.
No. 23 Thunder Law led the team and show at the DCU Center, flying high several times for epic dunks. The High Point University graduate has been a record-breaking machine since landing with the Globetrotters a decade ago and currently owns 11 Guinness World Records titles, such as longest bounce shot and alley-oop, both secured last year, on top of longest blindfolded shot in 2016 and longest backwards basketball shot in 2014.
He was joined on the court by many others on the current Globetrotters roster including forward Mighty Hopkins, one of several female ‘Trotters. She pulled a young lady out on the court and demonstrated “girl power” by spinning the ball on her finger and flexing her bicep, provoking loud applause.
Getting to experience all of this grandeur and fun with my son was an experience I will forever treasure and one that I know he’ll remember fondly. As a newer basketball player, he has grown to love the game pretty quickly — which makes this former high school point guard one proud momma.