Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Clown Princes of Basketball


Last weekend I took the short people to see the Harlem Globetrotters. I've loved them since I was a kid in the Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal, Geese Ausby, Marcus Haynes era (my first lunchbox when I was six featured the Globetrotters). Their shows still has all the elements it always has and the kids were still alternately mesmerized and howling. Everything from the bucket of confetti to the foul shot on a string, the weave and five touch slam, and of course the magic circle. If hearing Brother Bones' whistled version of Sweet Georgia Brown does not bring an instant smile to your face, may you play for the Washington Generals in your next life.

They started in the mid-1920s in Illinois as a serious competitive team. The clowning developed over time and would only come out once they had a significant lead. They were not entertainers, but basketball players.

Then Abe Saperstein came aboard and made the team's hometown Harlem, even though they were all from Chicago. As they were originally a Midwest touring group, the name Harlem made them seem more exotic and as this was the high point of the Harlem renaissance, it denoted something significant in its east coast reference.

But they were not a local act for long. The only sporting team to give command performances for the President of the United States, the Queen of England, and the Pope, the Globetrotters have not lost to their arch-rivals the Washington Generals since January 5, 1971. I am pleased to report that in Towson, Maryland last weekend, the streak stayed alive.

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve