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By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Who are these guys? And girls?

I had waited and waited until my oldest was 10, the same age I was, to take him and his little sister to see the Harlem Globetrotters.

Ah, but it's funny how things work these days, in our age of instant everything, what we forget.

When I told him where we were going, his reaction caught me off guard, but it really shouldn't have.

"What's that?"

It's not a that, I told him, it's a wondrous basketball team that will make you laugh, shout and cheer.

"Huh," was all he could muster.

I wasn't upset with the response, just a little sad.

But, how would he know?

When we were kids, the Globies' annual appearance on "Wide World of Sports" was must-see TV.

Where would they be playing this year?

In front of the Pope?

On the flight deck of an aircraft carrier?

In some far-off country most 10-year olds (me) had never heard of?

It didn't really matter. The Globies were always fun to watch and they always won. How do you beat that?

Today? Good luck finding them anywhere.

Where we had Globetrotter cartoons, the Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island and the always-dependable "Wide World of Sports" (not to mention lunch boxes and basketballs), kids today are only exposed to them if their nostalgic parents drag them to an arena near you.

Man, am I glad I did.

Now, these Globies are not our Globies from 1975.

Meadowlark, Marques and Curly are long gone off the roster. Replaced today by Too Tall and Flight Time.

And Red Klotz and the Washington Generals? No more, either. These days, due to a recent change, the foils are the International Elite team and the Global Select.

See the Globies on a Tuesday and they'll be playing the Elite. Go on a Wednesday and they'll be facing Global Select. Mind you the opponents are the same, but their uniforms are different. Ah, what the heck, it's all part of the show.

The talent pool the Globetrotters have to draw from is also shallower. Back in the day, playing for them was a pretty good option. See the world. Get on national TV. Have fun and make a living.

Well, now, with the NBA's Developmental League siphoning players, and seemingly just about every country in the world providing opportunities for players from the United States to go abroad, the near-NBA-caliber guy isn't a Globetrotter.

In fact, and this shows how far out of the Globies' loop I've been, they have white players and a female on the team.

The white player we saw was 7-foot-8 inch Englishman Paul Sturgess, whose nickname, naturally, is Tiny. And the female is TNT Maddox, who played collegiately at Temple.

Turns out the team (there are actually three Globetrotter teams that tour) has had a couple white players and females, but it's been a while for both. Regardless, both Tiny and TNT have some game and fit right in. When we went, the arena was just a little over half filled, but the memories were full.

When "Sweet Georgia Brown" was cued up at the start, a tear nearly came to my eye.

And when my son said the Globetrotters were about to do their Magic Circle, I just stared at him blankly.

"I saw it on YouTube. It's really cool."

I'll be darned, I should have known.

The game, of course, was close until the end before the Globetrotters, as always, pulled it out (and it included the bucket of confetti, the weighted ball and all the other good stuff).

It was nice to feel 10 again. How many times can you say that?

But what really mattered in the end? My kids thought it was the greatest thing ever and wondered when they could see the Globies again.

Yes, without a doubt, the magic is still there.



Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

Copyright 2012