The Harlem Globetrotters have played more than 20,000 games in the last 87 years, but they have no record of ever having played at Wittenberg. That changes at 7 p.m. Tuesday when the famed team brings its unique brand of basketball to the HPER Center.
Among the spectators will be the one man who has played for both the Globetrotters and the Tigers, 1960 Wittenberg grad Tony Wilcox. He’s still the third-leading rebounder in school history and 21st-leading scorer.
“I played four years (for the Globetrotters),” Wilcox said. “We did two world tours and played all over the United States. No matter where we played, I enjoyed playing. It was just an exciting experience. I met a lot of people around the world and made some friendships.”
Wilcox played for coach Ray Mears, and the Tigers never lost a home game in Wilcox’s four years. After his Globetrotters career, he taught for 30 years, 23 years at East High School in Cleveland, where he still resides.
The Globetrotters were entertainers back in Wilcox’s day as they are now, but their show has changed.
Tuesday’s game is part of the Globetrotters’ 2013 “You Write the Rules” World Tour. The Globetrotters have 30 players and several different teams and will play more than 270 games in 45 states and nine Canadian provinces. Among the players scheduled to appear in Springfield are: Nathaniel “Big Easy” Lofton, who appeared on the “Amazing Race,” the 7-foot-4 Jermaine “Stretch” Middleton and Fatima “TNT” Maddox, the ninth female in team history.
Fans help determine what kind of game the team will play by voting online at HarlemGlobetrotters.com to tweak the rules. Among the options: playing with two basketballs, the four-point shot, playing 6-on-5 and the option of a penalty box for referees to send players to.
The four-point shot is the specialty of Anthony “Buckets” Blake, a 6-foot-2 guard who played at the University of Wyoming. It’s a 35-foot shot.
“It’s not going to be like when Tony Wilcox played, but it’s going to be just as fun,” Blake said. “I’m Buckets, so I get buckets. If I take 10 four-point shots, I’ll make five.”
The Globetrotters play at Wittenberg at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets cost $25, or $50 for courtside seats. They can be purchased at Wittenberg’s HPER Center or at HarlemGlobetrotters.com or Ticketweb.com. Wittenberg faculty, staff and students can purchase tickets at a discounted price of $19. Before the game, fans will have the opportunity to interact with the Globetrotters, learning some of their tricks and having autographs and photos signed, by purchasing tickets for the 30-minute pre-show titled “Magic Pass” for $12.