The world-famous Harlem Globetrotters are going to be pushing the limits more than ever on their new world tour, which dribbles into the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 2.
Founded in 1926, the basketball team has since entertained more than 148 million fans in 123 countries and territories worldwide with their athleticism, tricks, crowd interaction and comedy.
Close to 750 people have played as Harlem Globetrotters. One of the current Globetrotter forwards is 6-foot-4-inch DeAndre “Dragon” Taylor.
Getting a nickname
Each player is given a nickname after making the team.
“I got my name Dragon because of my jumping abilities,” Taylor said in a phone interview with Whatzup. “I have a 45-inch vertical, and sometimes I jump so high it’s like I have wings on my back.”
Taylor is originally from Chicago. He attended Northern Michigan University where he led the school in scoring and rebounding in 2012, and then went on to play professional basketball in the NBA Development League.
Seven years ago, the Harlem Globetrotters called Taylor and asked him to try out and be a part of their team.
“It was like a dream come true,” Taylor said. “I got a chance to go in for a tryout, and it was just a genuine 5-on-5. I showed my skills, and now I’m here.”
Taylor was confident that he would make the team, and said he put his heart on the court during the tryout.
Players are not expected to perform any tricks that the Harlem Globetrotters are known for during the initial tryout.
Upon making the team, players learn the tricks during their practices.
There is a current Globetrotter who knew a handful of tricks prior to joining the team, which Taylor said definitely helps, but still, most of them do not have those skills.
“It took me four months to spin a ball on my finger,” Taylor said.
According to Taylor, the most important skills needed to be a Globetrotter are drive, personality, and ability to interact with people.
Being a Harlem Globetrotter is more than just playing the game of basketball. The team does many community outreach activities, including visiting children’s hospitals, which Taylor loves.
“You never know what a child, parent, or grandparent is going through at home,” Taylor said. “I get a chance to talk to those kids who are not able to come to the game due to illnesses. I get a chance to create a memory that’s worth a lifetime. ”
The Globetrotters’ schedule is very demanding. They can play up to 300 games in a year. Thus, they have to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“You have to stay in tip-top shape,” Taylor said. “That’s the biggest challenge.”
The team practices on average three to four hours before each game.
“Sometimes it varies depending on the venue and scheduling, but we definitely practice before every game to make sure we can perfect our craft,” Taylor said.
Since the team practices so much, Taylor said once it’s game time, it’s almost like they’re pulling tricks out of a hat.
“‘Oh, I remember this trick I can do, this would be fun,’ so we pretty much do that,” Taylor said. “After a while once you get your tricks down pat, you can just pick ones you love to do the most and what gets the crowd going.”
Taylor’s repertoire of tricks include alley-oops, slam dunks, and windmill dunks.
“Also, I can throw the ball about 25 feet in the air and catch it spinning on my finger,” Taylor said.
The Harlem Globetrotters collectively hold 21 world records and attempt to set more every game. Taylor said that one of their showmen will be trying a trick shot during each game.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Globetrotters’ four-point shot is still entertaining crowds. It’s set 30 feet from the basket, more than six feet further than a traditional three-pointer.
“We have a female Globetrotter who is an especially great four-point shooter,” Taylor said. “She can knock them down every night which is pretty cool.”
Crowd interaction is a large component of the team’s games, and is important to Taylor.
“I just love being able to have fun and travel the world and create memories,” Taylor said.
In addition to the regular game, the Harlem Globetrotters offer pre- and post-game activities. During the Magic Pass Pre-Show, fans will have the opportunity to learn tricks and get autographs and photos with the stars. The Fifth Quarter is a free chance for fans to meet and get the players’ autographs following the game.