Harlem Globetrotters' magic

After 10 years, the Harlem Globetrotters are back in Singapore. They thrilled some 3,000 fans with their four-point shots, dance parties and stunts while playing against the Washington Generals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The Harlem Globetrotters’ William “Bull” Bullard (33) perching atop the basketball hoop, as his teammates dance during their exhibition match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last night.
The Harlem Globetrotters’ William “Bull” Bullard (33) perching atop the basketball hoop, as his teammates dance during their exhibition match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last night. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

More than 3,000 fans treated to tricks like four-point shots and dance parties

How Choon On does not remember the Harlem Globetrotters that came to Singapore in the 1970s when he first watched them live with his father.

But How, who reckoned he was five or six years old then, remembers the stunts and the moment that made him fall in love with them: When they threw popcorn instead of a basketball.

That was the first and only live Globetrotters show he has attended, until last night when he relived the spins and high-flying dunks at the Singapore Indoor Stadium with his 80-year-old father.

"I almost travelled to Harlem a few years ago to watch them because somehow I missed their last show in Singapore in 2009," said the 53-year-old, who was sitting in the third row. "I was very excited when I found out they were coming, so I brought my father to bring back some memories."

The Globetrotters entertained more than 3,000 spectators in their exhibition match against the Washington Generals with their usual four-point shots, dance parties and stunts such as climbing on top of the basketball hoop and "arguing" with the referee.

One stunt that drew loud cheers from the crowd was the famous magic circle, where the players took turns showing off their fancy dribbling and handling skills by spinning the ball along their arms and backs.

Briton Chris McEvoy, 46, who has been a fan for 41 years, was glad to attend his first live show last night.

"It's my childhood dream come true ever since I started watching a cartoon about them," he said.

He prefers watching the Globetrotters' exhibition games to regular basketball games because of the entertainment element.

"It's about the magic they bring. They're like ambassadors who bring everyone together and make people believe they can do anything," said McEvoy, whose favourite trick is the trampoline dunk.

"I love their style and they play to the crowd. If you go to a normal match, it's about the results."

He also bought the magic pass that allowed him to interact with stars such as forward DeAndre "Dragon" Taylor and guard William "Bull" Bullard before the game.

"The players were really friendly and they made you feel welcome. This is the younger generation of players, but their brand never dies," he said.

Foo Mei Geok, whose favourite player is Taylor, also attended the Magic Show where she learnt to spin a basketball on her thumb.

"But, of course, mine is different from theirs. They spin the ball while turning but I can only spin it on the spot," said the 26-year-old.

How added: "The way they play the game is more creative and they have many tricks.

"It's not like a normal basketball game, so I really enjoy the magic they bring to the game.

"They do things like the popcorn-throwing that you will never forget because that made a big impression on me. And that is what makes it exciting as a fan, because you never know what's coming next."

It was Taylor's first visit to Singapore and the 1.93m forward declared Singapore his "favourite country so far".

He said: "The fans here were amazing, I could barely hear myself talk with all the noise. I love the culture here, the food and the scenery.

"One thing about the Globetrotters is we interact with people.

"You don't speak the same language as everyone, but smiles are universal and I love being able to see all our fans and talk to them face-to-face."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2019, with the headline 'Harlem Globetrotters' magic'. Print Edition | Subscribe