Sunday, February 7, 2010

Live in person: The Harlem Globetrotters at Times-Union Center, Albany NY, 2/7/10

Let's be frank. These are not your father's Globetrotters, not even your grandfather's. The 2010 Globetrotters have become more show than sport, and it's not good.

The last time I saw the Globetrotters, they played an exhibition game vs. Siena College. Today, former Siena star Tay Fisher is a Globetrotter, nicknamed "Firefly", and the near sellout crowd came largely for Fisher's "homecoming", if you will. Anyone expecting a more traditional 'Trotters-Washington Generals game found something more along the lines of the 'Trotters' Saturday morning cartoons from 40 years ago. The Generals' current coach, Reggie Harrison, was cast as a cross between wrestling legend Fred Blassie (he cut a promo before the game and was walking with a cane, as Blassie did as a manager in the 70's & 80's) and toon villain Dick Dastardly (Wacky Races). Once each quarter, Harrison would spin his umbrella and hypnotize a random Globetrotter (Fisher was one of the victims), enabling Washington to score some cheap baskets. It wouldn't last long, and in the tradition of "Peter Pan", the hypnotized 'Trotter was restored by fan noise or a "spectacular" play by the 'Trotters. The PA announcer's frantic narration kept the fans in the game, but to have the 'Trotters act oblivious to what was going on was an insult to the team's tradition and to the game itself.

It was almost as if Vince McMahon had bought a stake in the team. This sort of in-game chicanery would be right up his alley, but whomever's in charge of the team probably did cut their teeth on the 'Trotter cartoons (1970-72 and 1979-80). The pre-game, hosted by a hip-hop DJ, seemed to go on forever. The game was supposed to tip at 1:00, but didn't until 1:25, since they didn't start the pre-game show until 12:40. Globie, the 'Trotters' mascot, served up the world's worst moonwalk in doing a tribute to the late Michael Jackson, and on top of that, they did a riff on the Taylor Swift-Kanye West controversy from last fall's Video Music Awards. Yes, they're still mining that joke 5 months later. To be fair, the blonde wig Globie wore, coupled with the blue costume, made Globie look like a giant sized Smurfette! Oy!

If this is the way the Globetrotters are to be presented going forward, I've gone to my last Globetrotters show. It's not a game anymore, and that's sad.

No comments: