Zeus McClurkin of the Harlem Globetrotters takes a shot from the seating area during a recent show. "The Amazing Feats of Basketball World Tour" makes a stop at Toledo's Huntington Center Saturday evening.
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For more than nine decades, the Harlem Globetrotters have carried a legacy built on hard work and tradition.
This weekend that legacy will be showcased in the Glass City.
“The name of our tour this year is called ‘The Amazing Feats of Basketball World Tour,’ and that’s what people are going to see on the 30th there in Toledo,” said Julian “Zeus” McClurkin during a recent phone interview with The Blade.
The team’s 2018 World Tour started earlier this week and will eventually include games in 250 North American cities, including Saturday’s game at the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo. The tour wraps up at the end of May.
Zeus’ position as a guard and finisher, also known as a slam dunker, includes a spot on the Harlem Globetrotters’ red unit, which comes to Toledo. Other team members on other units (white, blue, and green) will be playing games in other cities on the same day such as Vancouver, Rockford, Ill., Newark, N.J., and Abbotsford, B.C. There are more than 30 Globetrotters on the team.
“That’s how we cover so much ground,” McClurkin said.
What: Harlem Globetrotters
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Huntington Center, 500 Jefferson Ave. in Toledo
Cost: $23-$120; tickets can be purchased at the venue’s box office or at ticketmaster.com.
The Globetrotters were founded in 1926 by Abe Saperstein and played their first game in January, 1927, in Illinois. The team gained recognition in the 1940s after defeating the world champion Minneapolis Lakers twice, proving to the world that African-Americans could prosper on a professional level.
The team undertook its first international tour in 1950 and made a trip to the Soviet Union in 1959, which featured Wilt Chamberlain on the same tour. Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, the Globetrotters had a CBS cartoon show that earned high ratings.
The team has played in more than 122 countries over the years, including appearances before presidents, kings, queens, and popes.
Zeus is in his eighth season with the Globetrotters and holds two records in the “Guinness Book of World Records.” One world record includes most slam dunks in one minute, which he holds at 16.
But the record wasn’t beat by simply standing beneath the hoop’s rim. Rather, after each dunk Zeus had to sprint to the free throw line and back to the hoop in between shots.
“It wasn’t just going straight up and down dunking the ball,” he said. “I had to actually do something. You had to have a ton of coordination to make this happen.”
He also holds the record for the most bounced three pointers in one minute, which stands strong at a total of five.
These days women basketball players are breaking barriers and competing with men on the court, he said.
Olympic Gold medalist Lynette Woodard was the first woman to join the Globetrotters in 1985, which helped pave a path for the Women’s National Basketball Association. The female Globetrotters include Crissa “Ace” Jackson, a 5-foot, 4-inch guard from Harrisburg, Pa.; Fatima “TNT” Lister, a 5-foot, 6-inch guard from Colorado Springs; Briana “Hoops” Green, a 5-foot, 9-inch guard from Lexington, Ky., and Cherelle “Torch” George, a 5-foot, 3-inch guard from Reading, Pa.
When asked how being on a team that has both men and women has inspired Zeus as a basketball player, he referenced the Bible’s book of Proverbs chapter 18, verse 16: “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.”
“I’ve been placed around great men and great women who are phenomenal basketball players, but on top of that they’re great people at the same time,” he said. “I pinch myself when I’m on that floor and looking around and looking at some of the awesome achievements my teammates have done.”