By David Todd
Special to the New Journal and Guide
The Original Harlem Globetrotters brought their timeless theatrics and captivating athleticism to the Ted Constant Convocation Center, March 3 – 4. Celebrating their 86th consecutive year, the team continued their world famous tradition of ball-handling wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that is fun for fans of all ages. Through the years, the Globetrotters have showcased their talents in 120 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers. They have even had the opportunity to entertain dignitaries, such as popes, kings, queens and presidents. This year the team welcomed three new rookies to the roster.
They include: Paul “Tiny” Sturgess, the world’s tallest pro basketball player at 7’8”; Jonte “Too Tall” Hall, the shortest Globetrotter ever at 5’2”; and Fatima “TNT” Maddox of Temple University, the team’s first female player since 1993. Often times, their nicknames help fans identify them on the courts. “Our teammates give them (the nicknames) to us … probably based on personality,” said Donte “Hammer” Harrison, a three-year veteran with the team. “We have a 7’8” guy, his name is ‘Tiny.’ We also have a guy that’s 5’2,” his name is ‘Too Tall.’ Sometime it’s based on your personality or things you experience while out on tour.” Harrison made his mark with the team by the way he dunks the ball, but in the Hampton Roads community, many remember him from the time he spent playing for the Hampton University Pirates.
There he led the team in field goal percentage and blocked shots during the 2008-09 seasons. He was also the team’s second leading rebounder. Surprisingly, Harrison didn’t start playing basketball until he was around 17 years old. Childhood injuries kept him from playing intense competitive sports, but after going through a large growth spurt in his late teens, he started playing basketball daily and quickly improved his skills. “I overcame a lot,” said Harrison. “That’s why I encourage kids, always. If they’re going through anything in life – keep pushing through and they can achieve even the loftiest of goals.” Harrison and Sturgess spent time last Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 27-28, getting out into the community and talked to children, parents, and medical professionals.
They went to the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Great Neck Middle School in Virginia Beach, Ruffner Middle School and Richard Bowling Elementary School in Norfolk, and Navy Medical Center Portsmouth. “It’s an amazing thing. We have a character education program that we put together, it’s called C.H.E.E.R.,” he explained. “Basically, we go out and teach the kids how to build better character and to be a better person.”
For more information on The Harlem Globetrotters, visit www.harlemglobetrotters.com.