I must confess up front – full disclosure and all that – I am not the most knowledgeable when it comes to basketball.
I am however always impressed with the spectacle that you see on televised matches, or even video games (though I’m told that NBA Jam wasn’t the most realistic basketball simulator in the world). My thirteen-year-old son however is a huge fan. He rattles off player names and teams that unfortunately mean nothing to me, but it’s great to see him take an interest in sports. He also tells me that watching Space Jam on repeat will not make me a basketball genius no matter how many times I quote it (but hey, what do kids know?).
When I saw that the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters were coming to Cardiff, I bought tickets for him, my wife and I, as I knew that he would enjoy the occasion (and hopefully we would too). I knew a little about the Globetrotters, but again not a huge amount – I knew of them from popular culture as a showboating team, packed with skills to entertain the crowds; but as for the event itself – I didn’t really know what to expect.
The evening match took place at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, temporary tiered seating was put in place (which is where we were sat), giving a great view of the court that had been set up in the middle of the arena floor (along with floor seating).
We took our seats as music pumped from the speakers – an upbeat mix of newer rap, hip hop and dance, combined with some old school (skool?) classics (swear words not included, very family friendly!).
After a quick refreshment from the bar, it was time for the event to start. The MC took to the mic and introduced himself, firing the crowd up in the process. He then welcomed the mascot onto the court (Globie) and then after some crowd interactions (singing and some dancing with Globie) the two teams were introduced – the Washington Generals versus the Harlem Globetrotters. Both teams ran out to the court with a great reception from the crowd, even the ‘bad guy’ Generals.
The Generals’ captain burst a basketball on the court with his bare hands as he shouted about taking the Globetrotters down. The Globetrotters meanwhile were getting the crowd to shout, clap and sing along, it was very interactive and fun.
It would be a standard basketball match with four quarters, the Generals were aiming to get their win over the unbeaten Globetrotters. I told my son that I had put a grand on the Generals as they were overdue a win, he laughed politely at my ‘dad joke’.
The match was interspersed with lots of crowd interaction. Some of the Globetrotters had mic’s on and stopped the match on regular occasions to bring people in from the crowd, involving children (and adults!) in skits, ‘accidentally’ squirting water over people, running into the crowds, a very cool slow motion sequence, and lots more.
Each player was a character of sorts (introduced at the start of the match, and with profiles included within the programme), with names like Swish, Hi-Lite and Handles (our favourite).
The players/characters came across as genuinely enjoying their jobs and being great fun. They had well worked and coordinated routines which had the crowd smiling and playing along throughout.
In addition to the comedic moments, there was an actual game taking place, and there were some very skilful and seriously impressive moments – including four-point shots, various quick dummies and repeated passes which made me (and the opposition) wonder where the ball had gone.
The match was fast paced and the Globetrotters snuck the win with a basket in the last few seconds (after the Captain of the Generals had been spotted increasing the score on the scoreboard). This was after one of the Globetrotters had climbed up and stood on a basket, before jumping through it!
My son was delighted that the players and coaches stuck around for some time after the event to sign merchandise for free in the foyer. As well as signing, they were happy to pose for photographs and have a chat as people moved along the line for signatures. This was a really nice touch and made the evening even more special for my son.
Both myself and my son were a little unsure of what to expect, and I got the feeling that he wasn’t expecting too much because of their reputation for being an exhibition team, but he smiled from ear to ear though for the whole evening.
Meeting the players at the end was a huge bonus for him, and I am sure that he will treasure his signed programme for some time. He even has a favourite player (Handles), and is keen to attend again when they come to town next in 2019.
If you get to an opportunity to see the Harlem Globetrotters I would highly recommend it! It was a great family day out.