When the Harlem Globetrotters square off against the New York Nationals Saturday at Gund Arena, the ambassadors of basketball will bring their A-game -- as in all-new. "When you come to a Harlem Globetrotters game, you want to see the best," says Eathan O'Bryant, a 'Trotters guard for the last nine seasons. "You want to see guys that can play at a higher level of basketball, and you want higher-level people that can entertain."
This season's retooled squad boasts more contemporary moves, revamped to include seismic dunks, mad dribbling displays, and new courtside comedy. But the 78-year-old franchise also retains a chunk of its old-school charm. "Some of the things we do, we've been doing for 50 years," O'Bryant says. "And once you've seen a Globetrotters game, you have an itch to see it again. So it's very important to keep it fresh."
The game will be followed by a half-hour court session, in which fans can chat up the players. Just remember to curb your enthusiasm when approaching your favorite baller. "Sometimes you gotta remind the parents not to push over their kids when they're coming up to get an autograph," O'Bryant laughs. Game time is 1 p.m. at Gund Arena, 1 Gateway Plaza. Tickets range from $12 to $40, available by calling 216-241-5555. -- Keith Gribbins
Where's the Party?
It's everywhere at Akron's First Night celebration.
It's not your typical New Year's Eve celebration -- unless your traditions include puppet shows, magicians, face-painting, and a petting zoo. First Night Akron is the city's family-friendly alternative to partying hard on the last night of 2003. The alcohol-free event is billed as "Northeast Ohio's largest New Year's community celebration of the arts," and it's got the ammo to back up the claim: From 5 p.m. till midnight, downtown Akron offers music and food, karaoke, poetry readings, dances, storytelling, and workshops at dozens of indoor and outdoor venues throughout downtown. Plus fireworks! Admission is $10; kids under 9 get in free with a paying adult. Call 330-762-8555 for more information. -- Damian Johnson