Attention all North Bay basketball fans and aspiring ballers: the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters are coming to town and want your help on the court to keep their winning streak alive.
The Globetrotters bring their special brand of interactive fun and family-friendly hoops to North Bay to face the Washington Generals at Memorial Gardens on Monday, April 1, at 7 p.m. It’s no April Fool’s joke, though fans can expect lots of trick shots, high-flying dunks, gags, pranks and some magical ball handling stunts. Tickets, including an upgraded fan Magic Pass, are available here.
The game is part of the Globetrotters’, and the team is eager to ramp up fan involvement, always a staple of the Globetrotter’s game, to a new level, making it the most fan interactive game in all sports.
“The focus is on the fans. We are going to have the fans actually get involved in the game to help us beat the Generals. Imagine watching the Golden State Warriors and being able to help Steph Currie win a game or score more points, so that’s a pretty cool opportunity and that dynamic of the Globetrotters game is a lot of fun for the fans,” said Lili “Champ” Thompson, a 5’7” Globetrotters guard who is in North Bay to help promote the upcoming game. “We haven’t lost to the Generals since 1971 and so we are really putting it on the North Bay fans to help us keep that winning streak going.”
The Harlem Globetrotters have a truly amazing 93-year history. Most fans might see them as basketball court jesters, having a ton of fun while entertaining families with their tricks. The reality is that the team is also a human rights trailblazer who helped break the colour barrier in the National Basketball Association.
The team was originally formed as a barnstorming team when black players were excluded from the NBA. In 1948 and 1949, the Globetrotters challenged and beat the NBA champion Minneapolis Lakers. Following the victories, Globetrotter Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton became the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract, joining the New York Knicks in 1950.
The Globetrotters were instrumental in another significant sports breakthrough in 1985, when Lynette Woodward joined the team and became the first female to play on a professional men’s basketball team, blazing a trail to the WNBA.
The team is indeed Globetrotters, having played in 123 different countries and eight times have had an audience with the Pope.
For Champ Thompson, representing the Globetrotters is very special.
“Everyone who encounters the Globetrotters is happy that we have this inclusive history and we are trying to do good in the world and be a positive force. Every time we play, we want to inspire the girls and boys in the audience to be whatever they want to be,” she said.
“I love that I get to travel the world spreading a message of inclusivity, and of fun and joy through basketball as well as goodwill and positivity in the community. Whenever we go to a city to play, we also visit schools to talk about anti-bullying and visit children’s hospitals to hang out and teach some tricks. That’s really special.”
Thompson received her nickname, “Champ”, from the Globetrotter veterans. It fits since she was drafted to the team right after leading the University of Notre Dame, to the 2018 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Championship. She also earned a Master of Science in Management from Notre Dame.
“It’s not a bad nickname,” she laughs.
During her visit to North Bay, Thompson visited the local YMCA, where she taught some ball handling tricks, showed off some of her own ball handling skills and answered questions. The World YMCA and the Globetrotters signed an official partnership last summer focusing on the power of sport and community where the Globetrotters will serve as Global Ambassadors of Basketball for World YMCA.
The Globetrotters 2019 Fan Powered World Tour touches down in North Bay on April 1, Sudbury on April 2, Barrie on April 3, and Peterborough on April 4.