While Bruce Pearl and the boys in orange take their game to the road this weekend, basketball fans have another reason to head to Thompson-Boling Arena. Tonight, the Harlem Globetrotters bring their game to Knoxville.
Since 1926, the Globetrotters have played in 118 countries and in front of more than 124 million fans. This year marks the 81st consecutive season for the team, which has received recent media coverage in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and has also appeared on “The Today Show” and ESPN 2’s “Cold Pizza.”
The most recognizable aspect of the Globetrotters, however, is their revolutionary impact on the game of basketball. The Harlem Globetrotters are credited with the development of many commonplace tactics of the game, including the fast-break offense, the slam dunk and the development of a scouting system to recruit players.
“They do a weave offense all the time,” junior Andrew Allen, a major in accounting, said. “It’s amazing to see it in action.”
The Globetrotters also set many game standards, such as Michael “Wild Thing” Wilson’s record-setting slam dunk on a 12-foot basket. Regulation basketball hoops stand at 10 feet.
And no team can outplay the franchise. In 1998, the Globetrotters played their 20,000th game, a feat that no other professional sports team has ever reached. The Harlem Globetrotters are followed by the MLB’s Chicago Cubs (17,978) and the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens (5,584) in terms of overall games played.
The team’s history includes many basketball legends. In 1958, “Wilt The Stilt” Chamberlain signed one of the largest contracts in sports history with the Globetrotters, beginning his professional career. He later played in the NBA, scoring a career total of 31,419 points and averaging 30.1 points per game. In his finest season of 1962, Chamberlain averaged an NBA record of 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds a game — the same year he scored 100 points against the New York Knicks. However, Chamberlain often felt that his years with the Globetrotters were the best.
Marques Haynes is another Globetrotter legend, considered by many to be the world’s best dribbler during his 40-year career in basketball. His dribbling was considered a valuable weapon, as Haynes could easily confuse his opponents with his quick ball handling. Haynes was also the first Globetrotter to be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and his name appears in five other halls of fame. During his career, Haynes played in 12,000 games and 97 countries, including Germany where he played in front of 75,000 fans in Berlin, the largest crowd in basketball history.
Today’s roster includes Matt Jackson, a 20-season veteran of the team and Gordon Malone, who took Kansas to two final fours when he attended. Tickets for tonight’s event start at $15 (a $3 discount is available with a UT student ID) and are available at all Tickets Unlimited Outlets and at the Thompson-Boling Arena. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
“The Globetrotters will even stay after the game and sign autographs,” Tim Reese, Thompson-Boling Arena manager, said. “It’s a great way for students to start their weekend — the game will end early enough for them to go out and do whatever else they have planned.”
Whether you’re an average spectator or a hard-core fan of the game, the Harlem Globetrotters have something for you, as each game is history in the making. What better way to kick off the Spring Semester than with some Friday night hoops?