On Monday night, the Arena will be filled with bouncing, spinning basketballs, befuddled refs and the odd purse snatching.
Purse snatching? Of course. Pinching a woman’s purse is a Harlem Globetrotter classic, along with harassing the refs and general clowning around. The team, which has been around for more than 70 years, just recently played its 20,000th game. They’ve only lost some 330 of those.
But make no mistake about it, the Harlem Globetrotters play serious basketball.
“They scout you and recruit you for your basketball skills,” says guard Barry Hardy, who is starting his fifth season with the team. “They don’t look for anybody who can do tricks with the ball or who’s funny.”
Of course, being a bit of a ham doesn’t hurt.
Hardy, who played college basketball at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, was in Spokane on Monday doing advance work for the team and speaking with schoolchildren about the importance of reading and education. Talking to kids is something that Hardy enjoys, especially since he gets to be the focus of attention, something that doesn’t always happen on the basketball court.
“It’s special,” says Hardy. “You’ve got a chance to change someone’s life or to just teach them something.”
Hardy keeps an erratic schedule, flying off to do a day or two of advance work in a city, rejoining the team for one or two of their daily games, then flying off to another city for more advance work. It’s a tiring schedule, but Hardy still gives his all for the kids.
“It’s grueling, but it’s rewarding at the same time because you know you did something positive for that day,” he says.
Hardy also tries to bring that extra effort to the court for his fans.
“You never know when it’s a person’s first time seeing the Globetrotters, a child’s first time seeing the Globetrotters, so you want to make it the most memorable time for that person, for that child, so you go out there and do the best you can.”
The team spends about eight months of the year on the road playing up to eight games a week.
Still, when 29-year-old Hardy makes it home to Inkster, Mich., he makes it a point to talk to the kids and urge them to take advantage of all the opportunities that come their way.
As a boy growing up in Inkster, Hardy dreamed of donning the signature uniform and performing on the court.
“It was a dream, being a Harlem Globetrotter, just like a lot of kids who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” says Hardy. “After all these years, here I am today, a Harlem Globetrotter.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TIP-OFF The Harlem Globetrotters will play at the Arena at 7 p.m. Monday. Tickets are $10 and $15, available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.
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