BEIRUT: The Harlem Globetrotters have arrived in Lebanon for their third time ever – and first time since 1998 – to wow crowds over the coming weekend at the Michel Murr Stadium.
“The world’s most famous team” kicked off their visit at the Commodore Hotel Thursday with a trademark display of basketball skills, quick wit and showtime entertainment, all performed to their famous “Sweet Georgia Brown” theme tune.
“We’re happy to be here and we’re happy to be back, the trips before were great, the last time we were here was in 1998,” said coach Barry Hardy. “We’re looking forward to bringing some energy and entertaining the fans here in Lebanon.”
The Globetrotters are putting on their world-famous show at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and the players are itching to showing off their stuff to a basketball-mad Lebanon.
“The thing about the Harlem Globetrotters is that we are all great entertainers,” said Slick Willy Shaw, a 6’6” player in his seventh year with the Globetrotters. “But we play basketball at the same time to a high level. It’ll be family entertainment, we’ll show you some great dribbling, ball handling and some high flying dunks.”
With basketball an ever growing sport in the world, the Globetrotters take pride in the ability to open the eyes of people around the globe to the game.
“Basketball is a unique sport, with its own language,” said Dizzy Grant, a player who took up the game after seeing the Globetrotters as a 7-year-old, “Wherever you’re from in the world, everyone understands the game.”
In Lebanon, although the sport is widely played, finding a municipal court where anyone can play the game for free can be tricky business, potentially stifling the future of the game. Special K Daley, a seventh year player, grew up in Panama, where he honed his skills at the local court.
“[In] my neighborhood, they created a basketball court at the end of my cul-de-sac, that’s where I started playing basketball. I can speak from my own experience that this was very important for me because at the time I couldn’t afford to play basketball anywhere. So the neighborhood got together and raised some funds to build a court and I would be there day and night. Every New Year’s Eve, when midnight would hit, I would go straight to the court because in my mind, while everyone was celebrating New Year’s, nobody else was practicing so I was saying to myself ‘I’m going to be the first one to play this year,’ and that was very important to me.”