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The Huntington Center was full of families Sunday. The kids outnumbered the parents and grandparents in the downtown arena, but nearly everyone was smiling throughout the Harlem Globetrotters show.
It is much more than a basketball game. It is a slapstick comedy show, a fan participation event, and a showcase for talented athletes to show off some of the best trick shots in basketball.
PHOTO GALLERY: Harlem Globetrotters visit Toledo
It also never seems to disappoint as pure family entertainment, which is hard to find in our segmented society where most TV shows and movies are created to appeal to a specific demographic.
“We come back year after year because the kids have such a good time,” said Chris Goodman.
He said the Globetrotters’ show usually passes through Toledo around the holidays which makes it easier for him and his wife, Lisa, to bring their two kids. The oldest, 8-year-old Jacob, pretty much sat quietly, intensely watching the game, but his younger sister, Sophia, stood up most of the time so she could see.
“I like T-Time the best,” Sophia blurted out to her mother, referring to the only female player on the floor. This year the Goodman family purchased the “magic pass” which allowed them early entry and Sophia took a picture with rookie player T-Time Brawner of Oakland, Calif.
The rookie player is one of three women traveling with the Globetrotter organization. There are three Harlem Globetrotter troops that travel around the country at the same time, officials said.
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On the team Web site Ms. Brawner said she hopes to be an inspiration to young girls and she definitely caught the attention of 5-year-old Andersyn Cummings, who was sitting in the first row with her family.
Andersyn was picked from the audience to go out onto the court with the team to learn how to spin the ball on her finger.
“I was a little scared when I went out there,” she said. It was the big crowd in the arena that made her nervous, said Andersyn.
She also said T-Time is her favorite Globetrotter.
Adding women to the roster is just one example of how the franchise continues to add new elements to the tried and true formula. It is using social media to get the fans more involved in the game as well.
At Sunday’s event the announcer told the crowd that Toledo fans voted on Twitter and chose a special rule that would be used in this game only. The rule turned out to be what the announcer called a “Trick Shot Challenge” that would allow each coach to force the opposing team to take a difficult trick shot.
For 9-year-old Jordan Coutcher of Oregon, seeing the players perform those trick shots is the best part of the game. His mother, Ashley Hart, said they are both big basketball fans. She even named her son after one of the most famous basketball players in the world, Michael Jordan.
Jordan said his mother surprised him with tickets to the Globetrotters' event for Christmas and “I said, ‘Thank you really much,’ ” he said.
Jordan is just finishing up his first season playing with a team formed by the Oregon YMCA. Jordan said the corner shot has turned out to be his signature move.
The Harlem Globetrotters were playing against the perennial losers, The World All Stars, in the exhibition game and there was no question who would come out on top because in many ways the game is just a back drop — it’s merely a device to give the players a platform to shine.
The Harlem Globetrotters theme song “Sweet Georgia Brown” is still a part of the show. It was played as the team took the floor but there was plenty of other more modern music blaring in the arena, especially during the pre- game performance.
Hip-hop music and dancers kept the crowd entertained, along with the mascot “Globey,” before the Globetrotters took the floor.
The show moves to the Stroh Center in Bowling Green today where the Globetrotters and company will perform at 7 p.m.
Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at: mtaylor@theblade or 419-724-6091.