ST. GEORGE – It was fun, fun, fun at the Burns Arena Wednesday night and that can mean only one thing — the Harlem Globetrotters were in town.
The Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team that combines athleticism, theater, and comedy. Over the years they have played more than 26,000 exhibition games in 122 countries and territories. Burns Arena was packed to see the fun-loving, family-oriented show.
“There are three different Globetrotter teams on tour at any given time,” said Globetrotter dribbling sensation “Scooter” Christensen. “We have four different tours each year. The United States, Europe, Asia and South America. We break up into three teams of ten and hit different areas to get wider coverage.”
Brother Bones’s whistled version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” is the team’s signature song, and their mascot is named Globie. The teams play over 450 live events worldwide each year. Many great players have played for the Globetrotters, including NBA greats Wilt Chamberlain and Connie Hawkins. Each player’s path to the team is varied. Scooter Christensen is from Las Vegas where he played for Bishop Gorman. After playing at the University of Montana and taking them to the NCAA Tournament, Christensen did not get drafted in the NBA, but landed with the Phoenix Suns developmental squad.
“I did not know that the headquarters for the Harlem Globetrotters is actually in Phoenix,” Christensen said. “They came to scrimmage one day and shortly afterwards I was offered a contract.”
The offer is the first step in a long journey to actually making it to the tour.
“They hire you for your basketball skills,” Christensen said. “But then you go through a process learning Globetrotter skills.” One of the skills Scooter perfected and currently holds the world record for — spinning a basketball on your nose.
Another well-known Globetrotter that graced Burns with his comedic presence was “Big Easy” Lofton. Big Easy joined the famed troupe the same year as Scooter — 2005 — though his path was much different. As his name implies, Big Easy is from New Orleans and played his college ball at Southeastern Louisiana University. In 2005, tragedy struck Big Easy and his family with Hurricane Katrina.
Big Easy loaded up 13 members of his family in a pickup truck and evacuated to Houston. As luck would have it, the Globetrotters were in town and offered Big Easy a tryout. He was offered a job on the spot. He has been seen three separate times now with fellow Globetrotter “Flight Time” Lang on the reality show, “The Amazing Race.”
Flight Time has the distinction of the current longest-tenured Globetrotter (16 years).
“We keep reminding them that they have lost the race all three times,” said Scooter. “Globetrotters never lose, so it keeps them humble.”
In addition to their basketball skills, Big Easy and Scooter were also the two that dominated a majority of the program Wednesday night with their showman skills. Big Easy has the role made famous by past Globetrotters like Meadowlark Lemon, Sweet Lou Dunbar and Goose Tatum. The self-proclaimed “best-looking player on the team” has a good comedic rapport with Scooter as the two kept the crowd laughing all night.
Other Globetrotters at Burns Arena were “Too Tall” Hall, who at 5-foot-2 is the shortest player in Globetrotter history, and “TNT” Maddox, the first woman to don the red, white and blue since 1993. The current coach was none other than Sweet Lou Dunbar.
“It is an honor to be a Globetrotter,” said Scooter. “We get to be true ambassadors for the sport. We interact with the crowds, with the community. The best part is seeing the laughter and the smiles.”
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