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Globetrotters to take the court at Purcell Pavilion

| Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Harlem Globetrotters, the world famous “Ambassadors of Goodwill,” are set to square-off against the World All Stars in the Purcell Pavilion on Saturday at 7 p.m. as part of their 2014 “Fans Rule” World Tour.

Herbert “Flight Time” Lang, a guard in his 15th season with the Globetrotters, said both long-time fans and newcomers will be able to enjoy the fun of the match.

“If you come to a Globetrotter game, you can come expecting to have a great time. You’re going to see some great, high-flying slam dunks … a lot of fun, a lot of crowd interaction and just a fun-filled event,” Lang said.

Lang said he will be joined on Saturday by Kevin “Special K” Daley, Will “Bull” Bullard, the all-time shortest Globetrotter Jonte “Too Tall” Hall and the 10th female signed by the Globetrotters Tammy “T-Time” Brawner.

Lang said he enjoys seeing how much young girls enjoy watching Brawner and the two other female Globetrotters on the current roster show off their skills.

“Little girls, of course, love to see a girl competing amongst the boys and competing well,” Lang said.

A prominent feature of the “Fans Rule” Tour is the opportunity for fans to vote online as to which four of five unorthodox rules will be applied during each individual game, with one rule enforced each quarter, Lang said. Fans have been able to choose rules since last year, but this year’s tour offers three new rule options.

Lang said the new options are the “Hot Hand Jersey,” “Make or Miss” and “Trick Shot Challenge.”

For “Hot Hand Jersey, ” each team has an orange jersey they can pass from player to player and the player receives double points for any shots they make while wearing the jersey. In “Make or Miss,” the teams start the quarter with two players each and one player is added anytime they score while the shooting player is removed anytime they miss. In “Trick Shot Challenge,” each team’s coach receives three challenge flags and can challenge any player on the other team to shoot a trick shot that is worth five points if made but negative five points if missed.

The fans also have the chance to vote for two rules that were instituted last year: “Six on Five,” where the Globetrotters’ opponents are allowed to send in an extra player for the quarter and “Two Ball Basketball,” for which a second ball is introduced. Another rule from the team’s last tour, the “Four Point Shot,” has been made a permanent rule for all games during this tour, Lang said.

Lang said he enjoys how the rule voting makes every game unique. He said his favorite of the options, and usually the fan favorite, is the “Trick Shot Challenge.”

“It’s just a way to change the game and let the fans decide what they want to see,” Lang said.

Lang said one of his favorite parts of any Globetrotters show is interacting with fans for about half an hour after every game.

“During those moments you really get to see how you touched these kids’ lives, and at the same time it’s a chance for those adults who went to see the Globetrotters when they were kids to tell you about their experiences,” he said. “Just to be able to bridge the gap between generations and allow parents to share some of the same memories that they had when they were kids is a pretty cool deal.”

In his 15 years with the team, Lang said he has played at Notre Dame several times. He said he appreciates the atmosphere each time he comes to the University and expects the Globetrotters will continue to stop at campus on their tours.

“For some reason, we always have a great turn-out here,” Lang said. “They love the Globetrotters. As long as they continue to show up, we’ll continue to come back.”

The Globetrotters gained popularity not only in the South Bend area but also worldwide. He said the reason for this popularity is that the individual players, past and present, have committed to their roles as ambassadors of goodwill.

“I think we’re so beloved because we’re able to bridge gaps and we’re able to communicate with people without even speaking,” he said. “We accept the responsibility of being role models; everywhere we go we’re ambassadors of goodwill. Any player that joins the Globetrotters knows coming in that it’s more than just basketball. We go into hospitals, we go into schools delivering positive messages, we donate to charities and people recognize that.

“The guys who started before us set such a great foundation for us to follow that it’s almost impossible not to like the Globetrotters.”

Lang said he considers playing for the Globetrotters to be the best job in the world, and one he never expected to have when he was growing up.

“I think I have the best job in the world,” he said. “For me it means the world because I grew up in a small town in Arkansas and I never thought or imagined I would have the chance to play professional sports, let alone on a team as popular as the Globetrotters.”

Lang was a standout at Centenary College in Shreveport, La., where he led the conference in scoring as a junior and won the college slam dunk contest as a senior.

“The thing that probably vaulted me to the Globetrotters was winning the college slam dunk contest at the final four that year in 1998,” Lang said, “After I won the dunk contest I actually ended up going back to school for a semester and finished up my teaching certification. I worked in the gym as a personal trainer for ten months before the Globetrotters invited me to their training camp in August of ’99. Once I got invited to training camp, the rest is history.”

One of the better ball-handlers on the team, Lang said when he does tricks he is trying to entertain the fans with something that has long been a part of the Globetrotter tradition.

“As far as dribbling, I’m just following in the footsteps of legends like [Fred ‘Curly’] Neal and Marques Haynes. It’s just a lot of fun getting on the court and hearing the crowd react to you sliding hallway across the court patting the ball.”

Lang said his dunking and dribbling abilities aren’t enough by themselves for him or anyone else to be a member of the Globetrotters.

“To be a Globetrotter it takes more than just being a dunker or a great shooter, it’s a combination of everything. You have to be a people person and you have to be willing and able to go out into the communities and get along with all kinds of people.”

Videos of the Harlem Globetrotters can be found on the team’s website and Facebook page.

Tickets for Saturday’s game are $19 and up and are available through the Purcell Pavilion box office or harlemglobetrotters.com.

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About Christian Myers

Christian Myers is a senior at the University of Notre Dame from Chanhassen, Minnesota. He is a Program of Liberal Studies major and has worked at The Observer for four years.

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