Harlem Globetrotters bring their magic to Tallahassee

Globetrotters guard Flip White fascinated the crowd with his antics on the basketball rim at the Civic Center. Photo by Vaughn Wilson

Globetrotters guard Flip White fascinated the crowd with his antics on the basketball rim at the Civic Center.
Photo by Vaughn Wilson

By Vaughn Wilson
Special to the Outlook

The Harlem Globetrotters have traveled the world performing for audiences for 91 years and have entertained over 144 million fans.

But they show no signs of slowing down, obvious by their recent performance in Tallahassee.
The popularity of the basketball team is in constant demand with the addition of multimedia, which has enhanced interaction with the crowd and innovations. That allows them to put on a show that is in its own zone.

The Globetrotters put on a well-rounded show at the Civic Center. Part of the time, the show resembled something from the mind of Vince McMahon and the WWE. Other times it resembled the NBA dunk contest. Still other times, it was strictly a circus, with mascots, break-dancers and all the antics imaginable.

Channeling the spirit of greats Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal and Geese Ausbie, the Harlem Globetrotters are one part athlete and one part entertainer. There is yet another part to them: bringing communities together wherever they perform.

The show in Tallahassee was no different.

In a world filled with divisiveness, they manage to show a glimpse of how the world should be. They exhibit how race, nor religion or creed should matter in the general scope of the world. The makeup of the audience, the music and the entertainment were as universal as sunshine.

Former Harlem Globetrotter Tommy Mitchell, a Tallahassee resident, was among those who attended at the Civic Center, was greeted by former Globetrotter great and current coach Sweet Lou Dunbar.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Globetrotters reached the pinnacle of celebrity status by having a top-rated Saturday morning cartoon. They were also staples on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, where they were watched by millions around the world.

Known for integrating local flavor into their shows, this one would be no different. A villain named “Cage”, taunted the home crowd by throwing up the “U” symbol and bragging about the University of Miami. Of course, at the home of Florida State University basketball, he was met with thunderous boos. Members of the “World All Stars,” who opposed the Globetrotters in the game, also engaged in the Gator chop gesture. Again, this drew the ire of the home team Seminole fans.

With games of musical chairs, dance breaks and audience participation contests, “DJ GT,” the official tour DJ for the team, kept the crowd moving. Along with the head-spinning break-dancers, “Globie” the mascot and coordinated dance routines, the night left smiles on the faces of virtually everyone who attended.

The magic of the original Harlem Globetrotters has not been lost. In fact, with the current show, it has been elevated with the addition of so many elements.

Finally, the show also has a social purpose. During the game, current lead Globetrotter “Big Easy” Lofton makes a plea for the American Red Cross. That gesture makes it not just entertainment, but headlines a serious matter amid the fun.