Originally created 03/25/01

Globetrotters bring antics, skill to town



The faces that represent the Harlem Globetrotters have changed over the last 75 years.

What remains constant is the organization's will to win and its desire to amuse the fans while doing it.

The Globetrotters bring their show to the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center on Monday at 7 p.m., promising to deliver the same ridiculous on--court practical jokes along with a dazzling display of athleticism.

"Every time you see the Globetrotters, no matter which team it is, you're going to see good basketball and good family entertainment," said team spokesman Michael Hegarty.

One of the three current Globetrotter teams will face off in Augusta against the New York Nationals, a touring all-star team made up of former college basketball players.

The Globetrotters have beaten the Nationals 254 times since January. The two will continue their contract together until March 31, playing a total of 262 games in three months.

The last team to beat the Globetrotters was the 2000 defending NCAA champion Spartans of Michigan State University. MSU won 72-68.

"Everyone we play wants to beat us," Hegarty added. "They come out hard and try their best. No one just lays down so the Globetrotters can win. It's probably the exact opposite."

Losing though, has been a rarity in the Globetrotters colorful history. Boasting an overall record of 20,600-333, the Globetrotters started a winning streak in 1971 that lasted 8,800 games before they eventually lost to a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar all-star traveling team in 1995.

The bulk of those wins came with Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal manning the show, making the Harlem Globetrotters a household name with their athletic ability, but also with their skill for humor.

"If we get ahead, it just all comes out," Hegarty said. "The Globetrotters love to win, but they love to give the fans a show even more. Those guys and all the guys have relished that role."

Paul "Showtime" Gaffney, an eight year veteran, is the team's showman, filling the role in which Lemon starred for years. Herbert "Flight Time" Lang, in his second season with the team, is the team's dribbling sensation, a role Curly once glamorized.

"I don't want to give away all the secrets,"Hegarty said said. "But my advice is for everyone on the front row to prepare yourself."

Fans will also get to catch a glimpse of Guinness Book of World Records holder Michael "Wild Thing" Wilson, who holds the record for highest goal dunked. He slamming a 12-foot rim at last year's NCAA Final Four.

Reach Patrick Green at (803) 648-1395.