With a theme song as infectious as their daring acrobatic exploits, the Harlem Globetrotters will hop through State College next week as part of their 2014 “Fans Rule” world tour.
On this tour, the team will celebrate the fans.
“The fans now have an even larger role with what we’re doing,” said Buckets Blakes, a guard in his 12th season with the team. “We always give the crowds the opportunity to participate and interact, but now that they’re picking the rules, they really have an influence on the game.”
Perhaps one of the most recognizable teams in any sport, the Globetrotters have a storied history. Having formed in Chicago in the mid-1920s, the team name was a marketing scheme that served as a tip of the hat to the Harlem Renaissance and initially toured Illinois, Iowa and other Midwestern locales before expanding their circuit map and relocating to its namesake in 1968. Since the Globetrotters’ inception, a plethora of legendary talent suited up in their iconic striped shorts and blue jerseys including arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, Wilt Chamberlain.
The importance of the cultural impact that the Globetrotters have forged is not lost on Blakes, who appreciates his place in their canon.
“I think about my place with the Globetrotters all day, every day,” Blakes said. “I know what I’m a part of, and I’m excited to put this uniform on every day and I like going out and making people laugh and smile. The Globetrotters have broken the color barrier, they’ve broken the gender barrier and they’ve introduced the game of basketball to places around the world that didn’t have any running water and electricity.”
An institution like the Harlem Globetrotters does not last for 88 seasons without the captivating athletic innovation and legitimately funny comic routines that define them. In addition to possessing an absurdly dominant win margin over the Washington Generals, their forever fumbling foils, the Globetrotters undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.
“The entire game is a highlight reel: dunks, trampolines, trick shots and magic with the basketball,” Blakes said. “You’ll be laughing the whole time you’re there and whatever you were thinking about earlier will disappear from your mind, I can guarantee that.”