Passing down my love of the Globetrotters

I became a basketball fan early growing up. I was seven when I latched on to the Los Angels Lakers and their gangly point guard, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Like most 80s and 90s kids I became a fan of Michael Jordan, too. I was lucky to grow up in the “golden age” of the NBA and watched as many games as I could and followed many of the stars of the time.
However, my first basketball heroes didn’t play in the NBA. I vividly remember at 5 watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports and being mesmerized by the Harlem Globetrotters. I became familiar with them from Saturday morning cartoons and loved watching them when they were on ABC.
I loved the ball-handling tricks, and being a kid, I loved the antics. The way the players went through women’s purses and threw water into the crowd, and then confetti. I was a big fan.
As I grew older, I perfected Larry “Gator” Rivers’ trick of dribbling with the basketball and sliding on the floor while continuing to dribble. I could also almost spin the ball on my finger.
In third grade, I nearly got in a fight over the Globetrotters book that was in my elementary school library and read it cover-to-cover in two days.
It was also around that same time, I went to my first Globetrotters game. I was 9, and our family traveled an hour to Ames, Iowa to see the game. We had good seats, and I enjoyed it, but my mom told me to loosen up in the first half because I was nervous that the score was too close, and I might see the Trotters lose. Of course, they held off the pesky Washington Generals and ran away with the win.
The most memorable moment came in the second half when Geese Ausbie grabbed a beer vendor tray and made his way through the stands handing out beers. I was so hoping he would grab me and take me to the court but instead, he grabbed a beer and reached over me and handed a beer to my dad and said, “Happy Easter, sir.”
Ausbie, who lives in Little Rock, was one of my favorites. To have him in spitting distance (He literally spit on me while talking to my dad), was a thrill.
That was my only time seeing them live growing up, but I continued to watch them on TV and was a fan into my high school years. I have seen the Globetrotters twice at Verizon Arena since I moved to Little Rock in 2001.
Now, a parent of two boys, I have been waiting to take my sons. I took my 6-year-old, J.D., last week. Of course, he loved it. My wife, Sheena, said on the way to school the next day that is all he could talk about.
He is just learning to play basketball, so he was impressed by the ball handling and all of the “four-pointers” the Globetrotters made. But, much like me at that age, he was entertained by the antics. He laughed and smiled and laughed some more.  All these years later, the Globetrotters still empty a lady’s purse and laugh at the contents, and dance with her on the floor. Then, it was James Brown, now it is is Bruno Mars, but the laughs are the same.
J.D. laughed continuously and had a great time. Like me, he was concerned about the outcome (It was a close game late in the game), but mostly he had a great time.
Unlike me at that age, he got a basketball after the game and met some of the players and got some autographs.
It was a fun night, and I know we weren’t the only family touched by the magic and wholesome fun. Luckily for J.D. and the other kids, the Globetrotters make yearly appearances at Verizon Arena. I know this won’t be the last of our Globetrotter games, and I can’t wait to bring my 3-year-old, Luke, next year.