The world renowned Harlem Globetrotters have been thrilling families and millions of fans with their basketball wizardry for 88 years, all the while innovating the game in exciting, new ways. Sunday, the Globetrotters bring their “Fans Rule” World Tour to the Big Island at Kealakehe High School Gymnasium.
Last year, the Globetrotters became the first sports and entertainment organization to let fans vote on rules. Since the fan response was so overwhelming, the team is doing it again – but this time with three new, revolutionary rules:
• Hot Hand Jersey — Both teams will have a “Hot Hand Jersey” they can pass among each other. The player who is wearing this jersey will receive double points on made baskets.
• Make or Miss — The quarter begins with only two players on the court for each team. When a team scores, a teammate may enter the game. When they miss, the player missing the shot must leave the court, leaving his or her teammates shorthanded.
• Trick Shot Challenge — Three challenge flags per team, each coach can challenge the other team to make a trick shot. If the team makes the trick shot, they earn five points. If they miss, the other team receives five points.
Players scheduled to appear in Kailua-Kona on a split squad include veterans Flight Time Lang and Bull Bullard, as well one of the team’s female players, T-Time Brawner
Bullard, a former college basketball player at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, is making his second trip to the islands with the team.
Reflecting on his first trip in 2012 — which also marked the first time in two decades that the Globetrotters returned to Hawaii — Bullard recalled terrific atmospheres at the games.
“Every venue we played had a great crowd,” Bullard said. “Last time we came, it was declared Harlem Globetrotters Day and they even gave us a key to the city. It was a real good time.”
The Globetrotters have been on the island for just a few days, but have quickly embraced the Hawaii lifestyle and been overwhelmed by the aloha spirit.
Bullard and teammate Flight Time Lang attempted to surf on Oahu’s North Shore earlier this week, and added some patented Globetrotter flair on the water. The results were mixed.
“It was an amazing experience,” Bullard said. “That was my first time surfing and I learned a lot out there. We tried to do some tricks on the surfboards, but it didn’t work out too well. The ball fell in the water a few times.”
While the Globetrotters are known around the world for their high-flying and usually hilarious antics on the court, away from it the players serve as role models for youth and are ambassadors of goodwill.
The Globetrotters’ games have a rich history in the islands, and even made an impression on a young Barack Obama. The president reflected on the experience in the 2005 documentary, “The Harlem Globetrotters: The Team That Changed the World.”
“I, growing up, was living in Hawaii, which didn’t have a lot of African Americans, and whenever the Globetrotters came to town it was just a wonderful, fun-filled afternoon, but I think it had some deeper meaning to it,” Obama said.
“The players of the Harlem Globetrotters were similar to a lot of black men in that generation — people with enormous talent who could not always show their talent…The strength and determination of that generation just to survive laid the groundwork for people like myself.”
The Globetrotters visited Noelani Elementary School on Oahu Wednesday to spread the word on bullying prevention. Designed by the Globetrotters in coordination with the National Campaign to Stop Violence, the program focuses on action, bravery, and compassion, comprising the ABCs. Bullard, a native of Detroit who overcame much adversity, including growing up in the foster care system, understands the importance of good role models.
“With that program we get a lot of good feedback,” Bullard said. “Knowing we are changing lives and are role models for these kids is really the best feeling in the world.”
The Globetrotters four-day swing features five games, tipping off tonight in Maui. The Globetrotters will then perform a doubleheader on Oahu Saturday before hopping over to the Big Island for their 3 p.m. matinee performance on Sunday. The Hawaii leg of the tour finishes up on Oahu’s north shore Monday.
Tickets are $30 and a limited number of courtside seats are available for $80 at harlemglobetrotters.com, ticketmaster.com or by calling 866-777-8932. Information on discounted group and scout tickets is also available.