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Post Script (Paul Smiths, N.Y.) 1946-2003, October 30, 1987, Image 6

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Persistent link: http://pscpubs.paulsmiths.edu/lccn/pscpostscript/1987-10-30/ed-1/seq-6/

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6 H A R L E M G L O B E W T T E The Globetrotters — On The Road Slam dunks, no-look passes, behind-the-back dribbles and arching set shots are all familiar to basketball fans. And all were originated, perfected or popularized by the legendary Harlem Globetrotters. Although fooling around on the court has brought them more fame and fans than an awesome 61-year accumula­ tion of playing credentials, solid basketball was, and is, the foundation of the fran­ chise. Whether it’s the dunk, the break break, the high post offense, or the weave, it all started with the Magicians of Basketball. Observers of the game acknowledge their skills and their legacy to their sport when they describe a sneaky pass or razzle-dazzle display of ballhandling as “Globetrotter style” play. In basketball’s infancy, the game was slow, deliberate, low scoring and less than exciting. For the touring Trotters, a team out to impress with its ability, one­ sided games were all too frequent, and the home town customers didn’t appreciate seeing their club clobbered by the talented, big-city visitors. So instead of hustling to rack up the points, the Globetrotters starting doing things with the ball to add some fun to a boring contest. Ballhandling exhibitions also served another purpose — that of slowing the pace of the game and giving the five- man squad a time out to rest their road-weary legs. While a lot seemed to be going on, and at a fast pace, what really was moving was the ball, not the men on the court. And this was the start of basketball, Globetrotter style. The Trotters were the first team to have every player on the floor handling the ball, including the big men on the front line. They were also the first to utilize players in such positions as the small forward, or cornerman, point guard, power forward and post or pivotman. Further, they popularized the fast break, as well as the popular high post offense. When the Boston Celtics ‘’revolutionized” the game with their figure-eight weave offense in the early 1960’s, they were picking up on an offense that the Globetrotters had been using for nearly four decades. As the Globetrotter style evolved over the years, it came to permeate the National Basketball Association and collegiate ball, as black and white players alike took their cue from the best ballhandlers in the business. Regular contributors to the record books and basketball play books, the Trotters hold a number of other “firsts.” They were the first pro basketball club to have a pre­ season training camp, the first to employ a full-time scout, the first to have a farm club, and the first to sign a woman, Lynette Woodard, to a playing contract. Although the Globetrotters haven’t lost a game since 1971, their credo had to be a version of the sports adage, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” The final score becomes secondary to the game itself, and the audience invariably comes out the winner. They play nearly 200 road games a season, but always hold the home court advantage. After 61 seasons as professionals, they still don’t observe the rules, and every time they hit the court, the audience laughs at them. In fact, over 110 million people from 101 countries have laughed at and with the fun-loving Harlem Globetrotters, who made their first visit to the Paul Smith’s College Buxton Gymnasium on Sunday, October 4th. The Globetrotters first proved their appeal was global in 1950 and have earned their stripes as “America’s team” with the non-stop touring at home and abroad. One reason why the Globetrotters have become a genuine American institution is their success in taking the excitement of a sport and turning it into show business. They attack the job with enthusiasm, always giving 100 percent, and their enthusiasm is as infectious as their opposition appears to be ineffectual. Currently the talented Trotters are riding a 16-year winning streak, yet they haven’t won a professional championship since the 1940’s. Their reward, said veteran Trotter Clown Prince Twiggy Sanders, is in the reaction of their fans. “ No matter where we play, people always make us feel welcome, whether w e ’re in the United States or abroad,” he claimed. Another reason for their durability as a family attraction is their generation-spanning appeal. Each generation seems to discover them, and the fellow who saw the team in the 1930’s with his kids, brings his grandchildren. Something of a father-to- son/daughter legacy. What the Trotters really offer is a good time. They are the only basketball team anywhere that can turn a slam dunk into a laughing matter, and North Country fans were treated to a first-hand look on October 4th. M a g i c i a n s o f B a s k e t b a l l

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