The Lanky Pranksters

The Harlem Globetrotters

The Harlem Globetrotters Gund Arena at 100 Gateway Plaza Saturday, December 29, at 1 p.m.

Tickets range from $13 to $22.50, and are available by calling 216-241-1212 or 330-945-9400

Sure, they've made some boneheaded moves -- like getting stranded on Gilligan's Island and falling in with the Scooby gang for a lame mystery or two. But when it comes to basketball skills, the Harlem Globetrotters still have all the right moves. And although the name-brand players, like Meadowlark Lemon and Fred "Curly" Neal, have long since departed, their legacy remains.

"The first thing the organization looks for is basketball skills," says Eathan O'Bryant, a six-year Globetrotter. "Scouts go all across the country, looking for new prospects at colleges. Then they look for showmanship, personality, and charisma -- all the things it takes to be a Harlem Globetrotter." Like, perhaps, the ability to toss a bucket of confetti onto an unsuspecting audience? Or dribble a ball off another player's head?

O'Bryant, who spent some time in the Phoenix Suns' camp, stresses that Globetrotter practices are just as grueling as the NBA's. "We work on fundamentals -- the shooting, the passing, the defense," he explains. "The only thing that separates us from any other basketball camp is the fact that we do things a normal basketball team doesn't do, like snatch somebody's purse."

The Globetrotters -- who are celebrating their 75th anniversary and, incidentally, never had anything to do with Harlem (their name was a marketing tool) -- are at Gund Arena Saturday, December 29, for a game against the New York Nationals. Expect plenty of B-ball talent (Wilt Chamberlain was a member, so you know these guys can play), but also some much-needed merriment and a little "Sweet Georgia Brown." "Everyone needs positive experiences and memories this year," O'Bryant says.

"We're going out and giving people the best time they can possibly have. We need to bring some laughter back, after what our country has been through." -- GallucciThe Harlem Globetrotters appear at Gund Arena Saturday, December 29, at 1 p.m. Tickets range from $13 to $22.50, and are available by calling 216-241-1212 or 330-945-9400. Gund Arena is at 100 Gateway Plaza.WEB DECK:

After 75 years, the Globetrotters remain a favorite -- on the scoreboard and elsewhere.

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