Now if I can just learn to whistle to “Brother Bones.”
The Harlem Globetrotters made a quick pit stop while whistling past perennial pushovers the New York Nationals at Santa Barbara before a delighted T-dome crowd of over 2,600.
With names like Wild Thing, String Bean, Flight Time, ZaZu, and Showbiz, the Globetrotters couldn’t disappoint.
The Globetrotters’ act was the comedic prelude before the drama that will unfold at the end of this week.
The UCSB women’s basketball team will duke it out for first place against Riverside on Friday while the men’s basketball team plays for sole possession of third place the next day versus Cal Poly.
And the theme of the night? Recalling the past. I felt old watching the Globetrotters for the third time in my life, surrounded by rugrats and diaper dandies squirming courtside.
The first time I saw the squad was back in 1991 at Thousand Oaks High School. I don’t remember much, except the original losers – the Washington Generals – were exceptionally inept. They were more gangly than pair of tweezers picking up a half-eaten Chicago red dog.
Magic Johnson joined the world’s wackiest wrecking crew in 1997 against college All-Stars at the America West Arena in Phoenix. There are two noteworthy events I remember from that game: Magic led Harlem to victory and Mike Dunleavy was sitting next to me, apparently scouting the college studs for the Milwaukee Bucks, his former employer.
Dunleavy was mingling with scouts from the New Jersey Nets and another cellar dweller. It looked like vacation time for Dunleavy at a Scottsdale resort with an extra nine holes on the greens.
But last night’s Trotters game had a more intimate feel. The routine was pretty ingenious, though it was geared toward tiny tots. And the dunks, especially from Michael “Wild Thing” Wilson, were electrifying.
Ringleader and 15 year veteran Matthew “Showbiz” Jackson, known as the “reigning crown prince of basketball,” immediately drew the crowd in with his panache.
When Showbiz snatched a woman’s purse from the crowd, he started arguing with the ref.
“Where’d you get the bag?” the ref yelled hysterically.
“From that big white dude,” Showbiz said, pointing to a National player sulking toward the bench.
When the ref implored which lady in the crowd the purse belonged to, Showbiz replied: “I don’t know. [White women] all look alike to me.” The spectators roared with laughter.
The players mocked the ref again with a Ring-Around-the-Rosie. Showbiz messed around with a basketball with a string attached to it. Rewind football at the three-point line resulted in a touchdown called back by the officiating crew.
Memphis natives Rarecas Bonds and Jeremy Williams nearly stole the show with their amazing gymnastics routine. Bonds’ flips at one point kept getting faster and faster until he became a blur.
And the strangest moment of all: gargantuan Mongolian center Sharanjoms Zerenjohar dancing to Will Smith’s “Getting Jiggy With It” was like watching Surrealist filmmaker Luis Bu