Harlem Globetrotters at Huntington Center on Dec. 27Written by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone knows the Harlem Globetrotters own the court, but this time when the team comes to town, fans will rule.
Playing with two basketballs, six players versus five, the four-point shot, double points, penalty box — fans will decide the rules.
“You never know what the fans are going to pick. Right before the quarter starts, the referee pulls out an envelope and whatever the fans voted on, those are the rules we have to play by,” said Chris “Handles” Franklin. “It just takes fan participation and fun to a whole new level.”
The 6-foot-1 guard said fans can go to harlemglobetrotters.com and vote for which rules they want to see the team use during the first, second and third quarters of the contest.
“In the fourth [quarter], the crowd gets to vote whatever rule they want us to play by right there live on the spot,” he said.
Sporting the familiar red, white and blue uniforms, the team known for its razzle-dazzle let fans call the shots recently while entertaining troops overseas.
What rule was the most difficult?
“You just can’t predict two basketballs,” Franklin said. “Anything goes. You have to play the rules of basketball, but you just never know what’s going to happen with two basketballs.”
The Harlem Globetrotters will hit the hardwood at Huntington Center on Dec. 27 and take on the Washington Generals at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets range from $24 to $100.
“In 1971, we lost to the Washington Generals, and we don’t plan on losing anytime soon,” Franklin said.
It was a few years after that defeat that Franklin discovered the Globetrotters.
“I was 6 years old and saw the Harlem Globetrotters on ‘Scooby-Doo,’ and I knew I either wanted to solve mysteries or play with the Globetrotters,” he said.
Inspired, Franklin found an old basketball and got into the game.
“I was a big fan of Curly Neal. So at a very early age, I would sit on the ground and dribble the basketball between my legs and around my back and all kinds of things and just continued to do it all my life and still am perfecting it.”
After college, he contacted his dream team about playing, but it didn’t work out.
But he never gave up.
“I won the world’s best dribbler contest through Nike. I did maybe five or six commercials for Nike,” Franklin said. “I went on to become known as one of the best ball handlers in the world and, eventually, the Globetrotters found me.”
Now in his sixth season, Franklin loves bouncing around and talking to kids.
“Right now, I’m speaking to kids about the ABCs of bullying prevention,” he said during a call from South Dakota. “I love that the Globetrotters are about positive causes. This year we’re playing with a pink basketball a portion of all of games to bring awareness to breast cancer.
“So for me, I have a bachelor’s and master’s in social work, I love working with people and kids, so to be able to be about something positive and good in this world, I think that’s the best part about being a Harlem Globetrotter.”