Hilarity ensues for all ages in Harlem Globetrotters’ visit to Syracuse

Hilarity ensues during Harlem Globetrotters’ visit to Syracuse

The entertaining basketball game took place at the Oncenter War Memorial on Thursday.
Published: February 2, 2023
Team captain
Team captain "Hammer" Harrison dances with a crowd member, drawing out cheers and laughter from the crowd.

The world famous Harlem Globetrotters aren’t your typical basketball team.

When the team rolls into town, the venue of choice is dotted with red, white, blue and black colors, its color scheme, and children of all ages. Players fire away from 4-point range, interact with fans during timeouts and are miked up during live action … and pull down the officials’ underpants.

Upstate Medical Arena at the Oncenter War Memorial was the selected venue for Thursday evening’s festivities as hundreds of local fans were treated to the latest installment of the team’s traveling entertainment world tour.

“We took a 10-hour drive to get here,” players suggested to fans. “We got stuck in traffic coming from Rochester!”

The Globetrotters have been around since 1923, but they haven’t failed to evolve in their century of existence. Young fans filmed TikToks with the players during timeouts, Griddy-ing off the floor to retake their seats. Players talked to Siri to cue music and mock fans.

The kids have fun, but they’re all there enjoying their favorite sport. When asked what his favorite part of the night was, a young boy named Atom exclaimed “playing basketball!”

Parents whoi saw the Globetrotters play during their childhood brought their young ones and reminisced back to when the team visited their hometown.

Young kids were having a blast in every corner of the arena, but their accompanying adults were often guffawing right next to them. Adults were scolded by Globetrotters for arriving late, interrupted when trying to parent their own children, and even seduced during a timeout — all in good fun.

"TNT" Lister smiles after making a basket, leading her team into defense on the other end of the court.

"Wham" Middleton goes for an extra high, assisted dunk, sailing over the other team.

I’d be remiss if not to mention the action chops from the members involved. No. 31 “Hammer,” No. 23 “Thunder” and an official were fantastic physical performers and comedians. They entertained the crowd with commentary throughout the action and timeouts.

The Globetrotters have included female players on its rosters since 1985, currently starring one female on each team, both the Globetrotters and their every-match opponent the Washington Generals. The female Globetrotter is featured in her own bit during a timeout and then a young female fan is brought on to spin a basketball on her finger and receives a jersey. It’s a small gesture, but a noted one.

Toward the end of the fourth quarter, the two teams agreed to wipe the scoreboard and play to a target score of eight points to determine a victor. To no one’s surprise, the Globetrotters came away victorious after a few more theatrics. In a nice touch, the player given the game-winning dunk is the same one who hadn’t scored all game, orchestrating jokes with the crowd and setting up his teammates for highlight plays.

In its essence, the Harlem Globetrotters are basketball performance theater. The experience is marketed towards a specific age group, but it’s a show anyone can enjoy, basketball fan or otherwise.

An incredible evening of hoops leaves me wondering how I ever missed out on this growing up. But I’m pretty confident of one thing after Thursday night: I won’t let any potential future child of mine suffer the same fate.