Harlem hotshots trot into Rose Garden

The Harlem Globetrotters brought their highflying and entertaining act to Portland’s Rose Garden on Saturday night. In their 80th season the “Ambassadors of Goodwill” stopped at nothing to spread joy around the arena as fans cheered and laughed before, after and during the game while they amazed them with their incredible tricks and comedy.

Like always the Harlem Globetrotters dominated the New York Nationals. It wasn’t much of a contest because the Globetrotters were simply better in all facets of the game. But that wasn’t the point at all. The score wasn’t even close and soon became irrelevant. Saturday night’s game wasn’t about statistics like steals and rebounds like a regular basketball game – it was about having fun.

Everyone from the fans to the referee to the Globetrotters had loads of fun. There wasn’t a person in attendance who couldn’t help but admit that they cracked a smile or chuckled a few times during the game. The game itself was seconded to the antics of the team. The Globetrotters even treated the fans to a coordinated dance number late in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter they played a little football and then put the game in rewind, doing the whole play backward. All night fans were pulled from the stands to take their shot at playing with the famous squad, water was sprayed all over the crowd and a fan’s purse was momentarily stolen by the team’s amusing leader Kevin “Special K” Daley.

Daley was certainly the center of attention all night. He argued with the referee, sprayed water on the fans and most importantly heckled the opponents. Special K didn’t give the Nationals the opportunity to run down the floor without embarrassing them in some way. The Nationals coach and star player Scrappy was subject to Daley’s most embarrassing antic of the night when Special K pulled down Scrappy’s shorts, exposing his boxers in front of thousands of people.

The crowd never seemed to give a hint of being bored. They were either clapping to the beat of a tune, dancing to the sound of the YMCA song or on their feet in an attempt to supply the players with the extra energy to make a long-range trick shot. It was definitely a good time for everyone in attendance.

Sure there were exceptional passes, dunks and tricks, but it was all in good fun. Emphasis was placed on the entertainment aspect, not the outcome of the game between the two teams on the floor. The Nationals were used to fill up space and occasionally play defense and didn’t have intentions to actually win the game because that just wouldn’t be right. The Globetrotters always have to win, that is just the way it goes.

All of the Globetrotters’ passes, dunks and trick shots were extraordinary. They had several alley-oops that professional players could always dream of converting. The entire team would bounce the ball off the backboard only to have “Airport” or “Shanghai” emphatically throw it down. Every player had his own set of incredible tricks with the Globetrotters standard American red, white and blue ball. Some players could spin the ball on their finger for upwards of three or four minutes. Others used the ball like a soccer ball, kicking it with their feet and then throwing it behind their head or back.

Although the dunks and tricks were spectacular, the most amazing aspect of the show may have been the passing ability of the Globetrotters. They continuously threw the ball behind their back to a fellow player without even glancing in his general direction or passed it over their head almost the full length of the court to a teammate. Their accuracy was incredible. It seemed as though they never missed a teammate no matter how they passed the ball. They were right on the mark every time.

The Globetrotters also displayed their passing ability by doing a weave at the top of the key. Three players would scamper inside and outside of the weave passing the ball to each other along the way. However, this wasn’t the kind of weave that teams normally do. The players were very close to each other and ran extremely fast throughout the process, showcasing their athletic ability and talent.

To end the game the Globetrotters performed their weave and then had each player bounce the ball off the backboard before Airport slammed the ball. Then confetti spewed from behind the hoop, appropriately putting a cap on an enjoyable experience for all in attendance.

The Globetrotters certainly didn’t disappoint anyone in the Rose Garden on Saturday night. They played the game like the athletic professionals that they are, but also showed the fans a good time with their hilarious antics and jokes. That is why they are truly icons.