Clad in a snazzy red, white and blue uniform and squeaky clean sneakers with a microphone in hand, 6-foot-9, 250-pound Big Easy stood at center court midway through the third quarter.
“Hey fans, who wants a Toyota?” he shouted, pointing to the left then the right, bobbing his head and acting as if a sleek car were actually in the building, ready to be given to one lucky fan. He walked toward the stands, scanning the audience for a viable candidate. 20 seconds, two layups. One fan would get a chance.
After much deliberation, he chose an elderly-looking man wearing a brown plaid suit and a Safari hat. The man walked out in no particular rush, grabbing the ball from Big Easy and turning to face the basket.
He made the first layup and then went into slow motion, trudging down the court in snail mode. The clock ticked down to nine as he crossed half court. 5. 4. 3. Then, all of a sudden, he accelerated and burst up toward the rim, dunking the ball with authority as time expired, cementing his feet on the backboard and hanging upside down like Spiderman.
Big Easy turned to the man, who was actually teammate Scooter in disguise, and grabbed him by the shoulder.
“He wins a brand new Toy…Yoda,” Big Easy said, unveiling a miniature toy Yoda and handing it to Scooter, as members of the crowd cracked up at the atrocious word play and classic Globetrotter shtick. That was one of many sensational highlights fused with comedic ploys Friday night at the Carrier Dome, as the Harlem Globetrotters knocked off the Global Select 114-100 to win the World Cup Championship trophy.
The night started when Globetrotter mascot Globie busted out his snazziest dance moves, even executing a flawless Gangnam Style rendition with his little brother Mini Globie. The brothers channeled their inner Psy, psyching up the crowd and setting the atmosphere for what would be a highly entertaining evening for the audience.
For the first time in 87 years of Globetrotter basketball, the fans had the opportunity to truly impact the game. Before each quarter, fans voted for a specific rule change they wanted to see implemented in the game. In the first quarter, that rule change was a shooter’s dream: the 4-point shot.
The Select took full advantage of the rule, nailing 4-pointer after 4-pointer. But then Harlem responded with back-to-back 4s to take back the lead heading into the second quarter.
Out walked Stretch. Standing at 7 feet, 4 inches, the third-tallest player in Globetrotter history, Stretch palmed the ball in his left hand high above his head as a small child looked up in awe at midcourt. After teasing her for a few seconds, Stretch bent down and handed the ball to the kid as a souvenir.
On the next play, Scooter was called for a questionable foul. He objected, but Big Easy was fine with the call.
“No ref, that’s a good call,” he said, handing the opposing shooter the ball.
When the shooter unleashed the shot, the ball – actually a beach ball – floated up toward the roof of the Dome as an uproar of laughter ensued.
Harlem guard Bull got a little carried away amid the brouhaha, though, climbing up onto the rim and kicking away a shot attempt. Goaltending was called, and, with the baskets counting for double their usual point value that quarter, the Select snatched six points in the wild exchange. Global took a 59-58 lead into halftime, but the Globetrotters were just warming up.
With a two-balls-in-play rule in the third quarter, Harlem went on a run that would eventually propel them to victory. Sparked by eight points from high-flier Moose in the first two minutes of the half, the Globetrotters went on an 8-2 run, taking a 66-61 lead.
They wouldn’t trail again. After a strong third quarter, the Globetrotters kicked it into another gear in the fourth, outscoring the Select 34-16 and coming away with the 14-point win.
But the fourth quarter wasn’t all business. A young fan was chosen to attempt a 3-point shot – a shot that was clearly just a tad out of his range. It barely reached the paint. Upon seeing the miss, Big Easy grabbed the kid by the collar and hoisted him into the air, visibly infuriated.
Big Easy calmed down, though, instructing the fan to move to the free throw line and give it another shot. Another airball. Another shot, another airball. The trend continued, until finally, Big Easy knew he had to think creatively. He asked his teammates Bull, Scooter and Bones to gather around the paint and pray for the shooter.
They got on their knees, clasping their hands and looking toward the rim in desperation.
The next three shots all ricocheted off Bull’s head, as he contorted his body so the ball would bounce off his glistening, bald scalp. Each time he fell to the ground, while the crowd continued to enjoy the entertainment.
The fan kept missing, but his shots were getting closer. Then players from the Select came out and bent down to the ground as well, willing the ball to go in the basket.
And on the 11th try after swirling around the rim, it did, capping off a night of made baskets, priceless entertainment and happy endings for the fans.
Published on February 9, 2013 at 1:03 am
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