Bartlett traded to Globetrotters
How does a 49-year-old gravitationally-challenged man end up on the Harlem Globetrotters bench?
He asks to play with their opponent, the World All-stars.
A few months ago, after hearing the Trotters were coming, I inquired about joining the opposing All-stars, a team that never wins.
It seemed like a natural fit. My high school team, the 1983-86 Herdman Huskies, enjoyed similar success. Our motto: Losers!
But the Globetrotters must have feared the explosive skills of a 250-pound, slow-moving six-foot spare who hasn’t played competitive basketball since “Rock Me Amadeus” topped the music charts.
Minutes before the game, I am handed a Globetrotters jersey and told to report to their bench.
The transaction literally made headlines (See above).
Which brings me to my current location – the Globetrotters bench. Alone. With roughly 7,000 people staring at me.
Finally, a captive audience to watch me dance “Gangnam Style.”
I jump up and ...
OK, I stop just short of doing so, because of the legacy my kids would have to deal with.
“Hey, their dad is Gangham Steve. Get them.”
In all seriousness, the 11-yearold inside me is freaking out.
I’m at a Harlem Globetrotters game, on the Harlem Globetrotters bench, in a Harlem Globetrotters jersey.
I’M A HARLEM GLOBETROTTER!
“Sweet George Brown” plays. My new teammates arrive on the floor and are welcoming – firing a barrage of fist bumps and high fives my way.
This fires me up. But then, the dance music starts.
On cue, a metre in front of me, the Trotters dip and dab, twist and twerk.
They are really good.
I am not. I twerked once and tore a muscle in my behind, which is called the gluteus maximus because when you injure it, the pain is maximus.
I ponder dancing with the Trotters for about .000000012 seconds, but decide my best move is to stay on the bench.
If I were a Starbucks drink, I’d be a Venti Wimpaccino.
It’s game time.
From a thunderous dunk seconds into the match, I am in awe.
The passing is precise, the ball control unbelievable and the shooting spectacular.
The Globetrotters’ skill and showmanship is beyond apt description.
They perform a basketball ballet that combines with comedy to make jaws drop and bellies laugh.
It’s an entertaining spectacle. Despite being on the Globetrotters’ bench in a Globetrotters jersey, it’s obvious how far out of their league I am.
I’m thrilled to stay where I am, in the very best seat in the house.
Then coach Barry “High Rise” Hardy – who had a 48-inch vertical jump in his playing days – approaches me.
“Can you shoot?” he asks. “We may have to put you in.” Yikes!
“I’m a triple threat,” I tell him. “I can shoot, pass and drive.”
I spend the rest of game on the bench fearing two things: getting in the game and being dunked on and sitting on the bench and being punked on.
I honestly thought the water bucket gag was ending with H2O cascading over my hairless head.
But neither happens. The buzzer sounds. Globetrotters win.
I don’t play, but see lots of action.
What impresses me most – more than the skill and thrill – was the Globetrotters’ focus on entertaining fans during the game and after, when they held a lengthy autograph session.
The team goes the extra mile to accommodate every kid in the building – including this one.
Steve Bartlett (left) with Zeus Mcclurkin and Hot Shot of the Harlem Globetrotters.