Known worldwide as the ‘Ambassadors of Goodwill,’ the iconic Harlem Globetrotters began in 1926 as the Savoy Big Five. Now more than 85 years and 20,000 games later, the team has become one of the most recognizable franchises in sports. The North American leg of the Harlem Globetrotters 88th Season 2014 ‘Fans Rule World Tour’ began Dec. 26, 2013, and the Globetrotters are playing 300 games in over 250 cities in 48 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces and Puerto Rico through April 2014. Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium is the 37th stop on the tour on Friday, January 10, at 7 pm.
Once one of the best teams in the country, the Globetrotters were eclipsed by the rise of the National Basketball Association, particularly when NBA teams began fielding African American players in the 1950s. The Globetrotters gradually worked comic routines into their act until they became known more for entertainment than sports. The Globetrotters’ acts often feature incredible coordination and skillful handling of one or more basketballs, such as passing or juggling balls between players, balancing or spinning balls on their fingertips, and making unusual, difficult shots.
Among the players who have been Globetrotters are NBA greats Wilt ‘The Stilt’ Chamberlain, Connie ‘The Hawk’ Hawkins, and Nat ‘Sweetwater’ Clifton as well as Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon, Jerome James, Reece ‘Goose’ Tatum, and Hubert ‘Geese’ Ausbie. Another popular team member in the 1970s and 1980s was Fred ‘Curly’ Neal, who was the best dribbler of that era of the team’s history and was immediately recognizable owing to his shaven head. Baseball Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins also played for the team at one time or another.
In 1985, the Globetrotters signed their first female player, Olympic gold medalist Lynette Woodard, and their second, Joyce Walker, just three weeks later. There are currently three phenomenal female players on the 29-player roster, Sweet J (#17), T-Time (#6), and TNT (#18). Former MTSU player Alex ‘Moose’ Weekes (#45) is in his second season with the Trotters. The team plays two different cities many nights, so exactly which players will be in Nashville is unknown.
The ‘Ambassadors of Goodwill’ sponsor several major community outreach program initiatives: Bullying Prevention, S.P.I.N., Junior Phenom, Smile Patrol, and ‘C.H.E.E.R.’ ‘The ABCs of Bullying Prevention,’ designed in coordination with the National Campaign to Stop Violence (NCSV), is an effort to impact schools and communities around the world. The program focuses on ‘Action, Bravery, and Compassion,’ comprising the ABCs, targets 6-12 year-old kids and involves Globetrotter players discussing the three key words in the ABCs and tools that kids can use on a daily basis to reduce bullying. The Globetrotters equate what it means to be part of a team to how kids
can offer support to one another to help stop bullying.
S.P.I.N. (Some Playtime Is Necessary) is a program designed to make fitness fun for kids, while promoting and encouraging an active lifestyle. Smile Patrol visits over 200 children’s hospitals annually, with Globetrotter stars sharing laughs, taking pictures, signing autographs, helping with activities, and displaying their amazing ball handling skills. Another Globetrotters’ program focuses on ‘Cooperation, Healthy mind and body, Effort, Enthusiasm, and Responsibility’ (C.H.E.E.R.). The Harlem Globetrotters are also partnering with World Vision to give its fans the opportunity to support World Visionʼs mission to improve the lives of children around the world while enjoying the Globetrottersʼ beloved brand of family entertainment. World Vision is one of the worldʼs largest humanitarian organizations.
Visit www.harlemglobetrotters.com for more details about the team and its programs.
Meet the Harlem Globetrotters Ladies of the Hardwood
Harlem Globetrotter TNT joined a very elite group in the fall of 2011, becoming the first woman to don the red, white, and blue since 1993. Her success opened the door for T-Time Brawner to join the team in 2012. Her basketball journey got started later than most. TNT didnʼt start playing until she stumbled upon the game on the playground at the age of 13. She also played volleyball and participated in track and field during her teenage years (setting state records in both the long jump and triple jump). But she didnʼt love those sports like she loved basketball, and she was an all-conference selection in basketball in each of her four years in high school. TNT began her college career at New Mexico before transferring to Temple, where she was lucky enough to be coached by Hall of Famer Dawn Staley. The Globetrotters are like a family too, and TNT is honored to be a part of it.
“Honestly, this means everything to me,” she said. “This team incorporates everything I love about basketball. Not only to play it, but to entertain, and to give back to the community. I’ve always dreamed of leaving a positive mark in basketball history, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.”
Harlem Globetrotters rookie T-Time Brawner was introduced to the game of basketball during summer rec camps, where she would play with the boys. Now sheʼs doing that as part of the worldʼs most famous basketball team as the 10th female to ever play for the Globetrotters. Her love for the game propelled her to be an all-league player at Skyline High School in Oakland, Calif., where she led the team in scoring, assists, and steals. After high school, she walked on at California State University, Northridge. But then the lure of nearby Los Angeles compelled her to pursue acting and modeling. During this time, she also earned an undergraduate degree in criminal justice (she enjoys watching crime dramas like Law & Order and CSI).
“I love figuring things out,” said T-Time. One thing T-Time figured out was that she was a ball player and wanted to get back to basketball, so she later enrolled at Dominican University of California in San Rafael, where she became an all-conference selection and led the team in steals and was second on the squad in scoring, assists, and field goal percentage her final season—all while also earning an MBA in global business management. She hopes the accomplishments of her and her female teammate, TNT Maddox, will inspire young girls, such as when both became registered as Adult Girl Scouts.
“I want young girls to know that nothing is impossible. I also want them to see the progression of women’s basketball,” said T-Time.
Joyce ‘Sweet J’ Ekworomadu (eck-wor-oh-MAA-doo) is the 12th female player in the history of the Globetrotters. The 5’ 10” sharp-shooter out of Texas State University was the Southland Conference Player of the Year and Student Athlete of the Year in 2008, when she averaged 18.7 ppg and led the school to an opening round Women’s NIT victory (hitting the game-winning shot), the first postseason win in program history. Ekworomadu connected on a school-record 82 three-pointers her senior year and finished third in the 2008 College 3-Point Championship.
Sweet J previously played professionally in Poland and Italy and has been a member of the Nigerian national team since 2007. The parents of the Dallas native are from Nigeria but moved to the U.S. before she was born.