Harlem Globetrotters entertain young and old in the Salem Civic Center

5
Known for his dunks, Saul “Flip” White hangs on the rim after a ferocious slam.
Photos by Shawn Nowlin

Basketball’s most creative exhibition team brought their world-famous tradition of wizardry ball handling and high-flying entertainment to the Salem Civic Center on February 12. Courtside seats were available for $85.50, while reserved seats were as low as $23.50.

Approximately 1,800 tickets were purchased to see fan favorites Spider, Hammer, Torch, Jet, Too Tall, Big Easy, Clutch, Flip and Bulldog put on an entertaining show.

Cherelle “Torch” George shows an attendee a new trick.

Nate Hammonds and his six-year-old son Zach arrived at the game wearing shirts that read, “Biggest Globetrotter Fans Alive.” Following the event, they both got a chance to take pictures with some of the players. “My dad took me to see the Globetrotters when I was a kid. I remember it like it was yesterday,” Nate said. “These are the moments with my son that I will be able to cherish for a lifetime.”

Roanoke County resident Jamal Jenkins also bonded with his son at Monday’s game. “He’s only three, so he’s not old enough to love basketball quite as I do,” he said. “When we got back in the car he couldn’t stop talking about the players.”

Nathaniel “Big Easy” Lofton attempts a half-court shot.

Standing 5’2, Jonte “Too Tall” Hall is the shortest player to ever suit up for the Harlem Globetrotters. The Baltimore, Maryland, has accomplished a lot over the years by just being himself – advice he regularly gives people. “Not many people thought I’d get to this point,” he said. “My faith has always been bigger than other people’s doubts.”

Since 1929, the Harlem Globetrotters have participated in more than 26,000 exhibition games in approximately 120 countries and territories. “I’ve seen the Globetrotters live at least fifteen times, and they’ve yet to disappoint,” attendee Kevin Paul said. “I don’t think my fandom will ever go away.”

Globetrotter players entertaining attendees before tip-off.

Anthony Clark considers himself a huge Harlem Globetrotters fan but didn’t know until Monday that the team never played in Harlem until 1968. “I asked the players several questions, and they couldn’t have been nicer with how they interacted with the fans,” he said. “They even showed me some new basketball tricks.”

More than 600 kids attended the game. Nathan “Big Easy” Lofton’s hope was “for each child to see something so amazing that they tell all of their friends in school.”

All signs point to the Harlem Globetrotters returning to the Salem Civic Center.