Basketball: Harlem's big boys hot to trot

By Anendra Singh


It's likely to give any hotelier in Hawke's Bay a thumping headache.

That is, finding a bed for a bloke who is 2.24m tall when lying in a state of rest.

It seems one of the hotels along Marine Parade, Napier, will have to do some serious thinking and adjusting before the Harlem Globetrotters arrive in Napier to perform next month.

The world-famous entertainers will perform at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, for 90 minutes from 7.30pm on Friday, May 31.

Speaking as a contractor for On The Road Events promotion, Dave Worsley last night said the exhibition match would be the last one on the New Zealand tour of the group who performed with former NBA star Dennis Rodman in North Korea in February.

"The last time they were in New Zealand was in 1999 but I'm not sure if they went to Napier, although they did go to New Plymouth.

"I'm told by lots of people the Globetrotters team played a match in the 1970s tour at the Stanley Street tennis court, where they laid down some sort of surface," said Worsley, a former National Basketball League public relations officer.

Bay basketball stalwart Les Glock last night confirmed the troupe had toured Napier in the early 1970s, playing at the then Centennial Hall.

Among the tour party are players, referees, managers, MCs, doctors and a mascot.

"The team they normally play against, the Washington Generals, have been rebranded as the International Elites, which are some of the top basketballers from America," Worsley said.

"One of the players is a woman whose name is 'TNT'."

The heights of the players vary from 1.57m to the 2.24m giant.

"The tallest guy doesn't even have to jump to slam dunk the ball.

"I'm afraid the hotel accommodating them will have to find beds big enough for some of them," he said.

However, the ticket sales here (with the price ranging from $49-$64) and in New Plymouth are the most sluggish, although Worsley said the organisers weren't too worried because they had five weeks to go, although Nelson had sold around 80 per cent of seats.

"Some will say it's expensive but we haven't had this happen here since the 1990s. Besides it's entertainment for the entire family where you could take your 8-year-old daughter and not hope she didn't hear something [offensive] someone said on stage."

While they had difficulties at some of the other venues - the first one will be in Auckland on May 25 and it goes as far south as Dunedin on May 29 - because of pre-booked events such as NBL games and private functions, Napier was lucky to have a Friday night when most of the other venues got mid-week slots.

The other venues are Christchurch, Wellington, New Plymouth and Nelson.

With Dizzy Grant promoting the tour in Auckland last week on TV, a Globetrotter might end up here, too, to do the same.

Worsley said the doors here would open at 6.30pm with hip-hop artist King Kapisi providing the preamble entertainment until the 7.30pm tip off.

Among the players are two who have starred on the TV realty show, The Amazing Race.

"One guy is called Big Easy, because he hails from New Orleans, and the other is known as Flight Time."

The genesis of the Globetrotters evolved on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, in the 1920s, where all the original players grew up.

The "Ambassadors of Goodwill" have since entertained 136 million fans worldwide, visiting 122 countries on six continents.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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