Monday, February 19, 2007

The Globetrotters

The whole family went to see the Harlem Globetrotters at San Diego's IPayOne Center last night (yes, that's what it's really called-- it used to have the cryptic name "The Sports Arena", but the new name is much better, don't you think?). The show is basically the same as it was when i was the age that my kids are now, way back in the neolithic when they played with rocks and flew from town to town on pterodactyls (like in the Flintstones, get it?). There's the famous passing circle, and Sweet Georgia Brown, and lots of clowning and trick shots.

Except when i was a kid, the Globetrotters were a big freakin' deal. People knew the names of the players, and they were on TV, and they had their own cartoon. But in the ESPN era of the NBA and the "And 1" teams and college teams comprised of 19 year-old mutants who can fly, the Globetrotters don't seem all that special. Even though the schtick is essentially identical, it doesn't really work any more. I think my kids found it mildly entertaining, but for me it was kind of like crashing at a Holiday Inn in Nebraska and finding that the The Eagles are the lounge act (or substitute your favorite 70s band). Even the players seemed bored. What really struck me though is that nobody can shoot anymore.

When i saw the Globetrotters in the 70s there was still also the memory of the time when they could play and defeat NBA teams, and there was a conceit that Globetrotter players could have gone to the NBA had they so chosen (after all, Wilt was a Globetrotter at one time). That's gone for good though. Even a 9-year-old kid knows that nobody would pass up an NBA paycheck.

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