Harlem Globetrotters ‘shoot their shot’ at Auckland’s Eden Park

First person – The hopping, hooping Harlem Globetrotters graced the fields of Eden Park for a kick-off and shoot-off with the Auckland Blues last Friday.

As entertaining as it is to watch professionals from two very different sports compete against one another, I was really intrigued to learn who the Harlem Globetrotters are and see if any of their shot-shooting skills would rub off on me.

Established in 1926, the Harlem Globetrotters are world-known for the acrobatic, entertaining and comedic shows all featured around basketball.

The Globetrotters come from a line of legends, all hailing from different parts of the United States.

One of these legends includes Lynette Woodard, who became the first ever woman to play professional basketball with men in 1985. The Naismith Hall of Famer also captained the US Olympic team to a gold medal finish at the Los Angeles, California 1984 games.

Adding to the greats is former NBA player Wilt Chamberlain aka ‘The Stilt’ who was signed by the Globetrotters in 1958. Chamberlain also played in the NBA for the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors between 1959 and 1973. In 1962 during the height of his career, he averaged an NBA record of 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game.

Holding 21 Guinness World Records titles, the two current Globetrotters, ‘Hot Rod’ De La Rosa and ‘Wham’ Middleton gush about how exciting it is to be a part of a historical team.

“It’s amazing. 1926, 98 years travelling all over the globe. For us to be a part of something positive and going out there travelling all around the world, preaching that positive message, I love it,” Hot Rod De La Rosa says.

Wham tells me: “We are following extremely big footprints. To be going on for nearly over a hundred years that means we are doing something right.”

Towering over seven foot one, Hot Rod’s role is throwing up sky-high hook shots with ease.

The forward says his favourite thing about being a part of the team is being able to “inspire people. Especially the youth, the young people out there. We are in a time now where we don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives”.

Harlem Globetrotters Wham and Hot Rod De La Rosa talk about the history of the team and teach Symone Tafuna'i how to "shoot her shot".

Wham adds that it is “amazing” playing with his fellow teammate, Hot Rod.

“He’s tall, I’m small. He’s the alright looking one and I’m the good looking one.”

Middleton is well-known for his magical dribbling and passing combos to set up his teammates for plays.

The team gave him his nickname ‘Wham’ because: “I’m so fast on the court when I dribble past you all you can hear is … wham.”

Wham highlights that despite the team being recognised for “their iconic ball spin”. He likes to spin it “sideways as if I am defying gravity”.

After formalities are over, Hot Rod takes the field to teach me how to “shoot my shot”.

“You hit the corner of the square and that’s a lay-up. That’s like a dunk too because that’s two-points.”

Harlem Globetrotters Wham and Hot Rod De La Rosa talk about the history of the team and teach Symone Tafuna'i how to "shoot her shot".

Stepping directly under the hoop I take Hot Rods advice to hit the “corner of the square” on the backboard and shoot confidently.

“There you go,” Hot Rod offers a few encouraging words before the ball is denied by the rim and bounces away. I brush it off, blaming my tight blazer.

“Try one more time,” Hot Rod says.

I return to my spot underneath the hoop and try again.

Results? Instant buckets. That is a 50.0 field goal percentage, only 4 percent off from The Stilt.

The Harlem Globetrotters’ first show in New Zealand is 10 July at the Globe Arena, Claudelands, Hamilton.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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