Bryan Narcisse was only 8 or 9 years old when he was first inspired by a performance of the Harlem Globetrotters in Augusta.
“Curly ‘Boo’ Johnson – that’s the only name I distinctly remember,” said Narcisse of the guy who was considered the “World’s Greatest Dribbler” in 18 seasons with the Globetrotters. “He did the dribbling and would slide on the floor and stuff like that. I remember going home and trying to do that. Buuuuuuut it doesn’t work when you’re trying it on a driveway. Scraped myself up a little bit.”
Narcisse recovered from that childhood indiscretion to become a star 6-foot-6 forward at North Augusta High School and Clemson. Now at age 22, he’s traveling the world with the Globetrotters himself.
Tonight he returns home for the first time with the Globetrotters to perform at 7 p.m. at James Brown Arena. With three rosters split to simultaneously perform in two American and one international tours, “B-Nice” is glad to have a chance to perform at home.
“It wasn’t my choice but I’m thankful that they put me on it,” he said. “I’m very excited to come back home as a Globetrotter. It’s going to be unbelievable to see family and friends and see the environment and atmosphere. It’s going to be exciting.”
Narcisse could hardly imagine the kind of travel and work involved in being a Globetrotter. The three squads put on 250 shows on constant tour from December through the end of April. It makes the 30-some games a season he played in at Clemson seem like “nothing.”
“It’s definitely a grind,” he said of a tour that this week alone has taken him from Valdosta to Macon to Savannah to Augusta and off to Atlanta immediately after the show. “A different city every night. A lot of traveling but you get to see a lot of the world and see a lot things you don’t normally see in a college schedule.”
Of course you don’t get to see a lot of friends and family, either, which makes tonight’s show all the more special for Narcisse.
“I haven’t seen my mom all year,” he said. “We make that joke every time New Year’s comes, but I really haven’t seen her all year. So it’s gonna be cool seeing her, uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, people I played ball in high school with, Coach (Al) Young might be there. It’s a big family. It’s gonna be fun to have my CSRA family meet my Globetrotters family.”
Being a Globetrotter these days requires a nickname. Narcisse had often been called “Goggles” because of the distinctive glasses he wears, but it was his smile that earned him the monicker “B-Nice” when he joined the Globetrotters.
“When I was interviewing they called me ‘B-Nice’ because I had the nicest smile on the team,” he said. “That’s what we rolled with. I love it.”
His teammates competing against the Global Select team in Augusta tonight will include showman headliner “Special K” Daley, “Slick” Willie Shaw, “T-Time” Brawner (the first female Globetrotter) and “Firefly” Fisher, who went into Wednesday night’s game in Macon riding an unprecedented streak of 64 consecutive games with at least one 4-point shot (35 feet, which is 12 feet beyond the NBA’s 3-point line).
“He’s unbelievable,” said Narcisse of Fisher. “One game he made 11 4s in a row. He’s in a zone.”
B-Nice’s specialty is dunking. He first caught the eye of Globetrotters recruiters at a college slam-dunk competition when he put on a retro jersey of former Clemson star Larry Nance and got a perfect score slamming home a ball after it bounced off the shot clock.
What he has in store for fans at James Brown Arena tonight remains a surprise.
“You have to come to see,” he said. “It’s good stuff.”
Narcisse’s other talents include beat-boxing the familiar Globetrotters theme song Sweet Georgia Brown and “dabbling in dancing” like swing and hip-hop. He fancies himself a future contestant on Dancing With the Stars.
“It would be an awesome opportunity, but we’ll see,” he said.
For now, the Globetrotters present plenty of awesome opportunities. Like playing a game on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis deployed in the Arabian Gulf.
The game was played at 8 a.m. on Pearl Harbor Day during Narcisse’s first trip with the team – a three-week tour of military bases in the Middle East.
“That’s probably my fondest Globetrotter memory so far,” he said. “Had on camouflage uniforms that whole trip in honor of the troops. It was a real fun way to kick off my experience with the team. It was a fun game outside on the deck. Wind was blowing a bit, but that made it like I was playing the game in Summerville Park in North Augusta or May Park in Augusta. Kind of brought you back to your roots.”
For one night only, Narcisse is really going back to his roots where he first saw those Globetrotters as a kid..
“They really are just masters at what they do,” he said of his predecessors and peers. “Getting a chance to be a part of it and be able to come back to Augusta where I first saw the Globetrotters, it really is a dream come true. Everyone dreams of playing professional basketball. Not only am I getting a chance to do that, I’m getting a chance to play in my hometown, a chance to put smiles on people’s faces, a chance to interact with people. It’s the whole package.”