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Steve Bartlett: Traded to Globetrotters

Steve Bartlett (left) with Zeus McClurkin and Hot Shot of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Steve Bartlett (left) with Zeus McClurkin and Hot Shot of the Harlem Globetrotters.

How does a 49-year-old gravitationally challenged man end up on the Harlem Globetrotters bench?

Steve Bartlett: The Deep End

He asks to play with their opponent, the World All-Stars.

A few months ago, after hearing the Trotters were coming, I inquired about joining the opposing All-Stars, a team that never wins.

It seemed like a natural fit. My high school team, the 1983-86 Herdman Huskies, enjoyed similar success. Our motto: Losers!

But the Globetrotters must have feared the explosive skills of a 250-pound, slow-moving six-foot spare who hasn’t played competitive basketball since “Rock Me Amadeus” topped the music charts.

Minutes before the game, I am handed a Globetrotters jersey and told to report to their bench.

The transaction literally made headlines (See above.)

Which brings me to my current location — the Globetrotters bench. Alone. With roughly 7,000 people staring at me.

Finally, a captive audience to watch me dance “Gangnam Style.”

I jump up and …

OK, I stop just short of doing so, because of the legacy my kids would have to deal with.

“Hey, their dad is Gangham Steve. Get them.”

In all seriousness, the 11-year-old inside me is freaking out.

I’m at a Harlem Globetrotters game, on the Harlem Globetrotters bench, in a Harlem Globetrotters jersey.

I’M A HARLEM GLOBETROTTER!

“Sweet Georgia Brown” plays. My new teammates arrive on the floor and are welcoming — firing a barrage of fist bumps and high fives my way.

This fires me up. But then, the dance music starts.

On cue, a metre in front of me, the Trotters dip and dab, twist and twerk.

They are really good.

I am not. I twerked once and tore a muscle in my behind, which is called the gluteus maximus because when you injure it, the pain is maximus.

I ponder dancing with the Trotters for about .000000012 seconds, but decide my best move is to stay on the bench.

If I were a Starbucks drink, I’d be a Venti Wimpaccino.

It’s game time.

From a thunderous dunk seconds into the match, I am in awe.

The passing is precise, the ball control unbelievable and the shooting spectacular.

The Globetrotters’ skill and showmanship is beyond apt description.

They perform a basketball ballet that combines with comedy to make jaws drop and bellies laugh.

It’s an entertaining spectacle.

Despite being on the Globetrotters’ bench in a Globetrotters jersey, it’s obvious how far out of their league I am.

I’m thrilled to stay where I am, in the very best seat in the house.

Then coach Barry “High Rise” Hardy — who had a 48-inch vertical jump in his playing days — approaches me.

“Can you shoot?” he asks. “We may have to put you in.”

Yikes!

“I’m a triple threat,” I tell him. “I can shoot, pass, and drive.”

I spend the rest of game on the bench fearing two things: getting in the game and being dunked on and sitting on the bench and being punked on.

I honestly thought the water bucket gag was ending with H2O cascading over my hairless head.

But neither happens. The buzzer sounds. Globetrotters win.

I don’t play, but see lots of action.

What impresses me most — more than the skill and thrill — was the Globetrotters’ focus on entertaining fans during the game and after, when they held a lengthy autograph session.

The team goes the extra mile to accommodate every kid in the building — including this one.

Steve Bartlett is an editor with Saltwire Network. His dives into the Deep End each Monday to avoid reality and technical fouls. Reach him at sbartlett@thetelegram.com.

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