Globetrotters basketball journey comes full circle

For Globetrotter Dizzy Grant, his passion for the game of basketball has come full circle.

“When I was in second grade, my parents took me to see the Harlem Globetrotters and they bought me a basketball from the merchandise stand. It was my very first basketball and it is what got me into playing,” said Grant. “I got a ball before I had a hoop, so my dad put one up and that is how I started playing.”

Ironically, at that game the head person on the team was Sweet Lou Dunbar and now he is Grant’s coach.

“That is pretty cool,” said Grant. “I always joke with him that he is an old man because I remember when I saw him when I was little and 20 something years later he is my coach.”

Grant attended post-secondary at the College of New Jersey and mid-way through his junior year he dreamt of playing professional basketball. He went to exposure camps in his senior year and in Florida the Globetrotters had a scout and asked if he wanted to try out. Seven years later he has toured with the Globetrotters to 56 countries.

“The Globetrotters have been around for 87 years and I think the one thing that makes us stay around for so long is laughter. We travel all around the world and it doesn’t matter where we are people laugh at the show. Laughter is a universal language that people never get tired of,” said Grant.

Putting a smile on people’s face is something that comes easy for the six-foot-two guard. He flashes his big grin when the topic of his popular impersonation videos on the Globetrotters website are brought up. From Charles Barkley’s golf swing, Steve Nash’s idiosynchracies on the court to Kobe Bryant’s pump fakes and facial expressions this Globetrotter has them down.

“I ran into Shaq one time in Denver when he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers and their locker room was right next to ours. They had just finished practicing and he came in to say hello and everyone was saying do Shaq, do Shaq. So I did. He is a seven foot two 300 pound massive man I wasn’t sure he was going to like it or not, but he loved it. He was cracking up,” said Grant.

Spreading that Globetrotter positivity is what Grant did this week, stopping in at KVR middle school and Kaleden Elementary School to talk about the timely and serious topic of bullying. Action, Bravery and Compassion (the ABC’s of anti-bullying) is the message Grant and the Globetrotters are spreading to their young fans.

On the road for four months on the You Write The Rules tour, Grant said being away from home for so long can be tough but the rewards make it all worth it.

“There are not very many professions where you can meet someone for two hours out of their day and they will never forget it for the rest of their life,” said Grant.

Penticton man Chuck O’Fallon is just one of those people. It was Jan. 13, 1956 in Vancouver when O’Fallon played in a under-21 league, but was called up by coach Lance Hudson (who coached the 1956 Canadian Olympic team to a silver medal) play with a men’s team called C-Fun for one night to go against the Harlem Globetrotters.

“We went against this dribbler named Curly and the guy made us look like fools in front of 5,000 people at UBC. He just made us look like idiots. We were rolling on the floor trying to grab him,” said O’Fallon laughing as he recalled the incident. “When you’re chasing this guy everyone is killing themselves laughing and all your thinking is I got to get this guy but he would move around so quick and lay you on you’re face. It was a lot of fun.”

O’Fallon scored four points that night and now, almost 57 years to the day O’Fallon will get to see the Globetrotters again. Albeit, this time from the sidelines.

His wife, Jean, surprised him with centre court tickets

“The crowd at that game was raucous, everyone was laughing and cheering. These guys are just so good, even with all their tricks. It is so much fun and you never know what they are going to do. They are a load of fun to watch play and they are excellent athletes.

O’Fallon also refereed basketball and ended up in a game by one of the take-off Harlem Globetrotters squads that came through Vancouver called the Harlem Ghosts.

“You go along with the antics but I guess I was a pushover and this one time they absolutely pulled my pants down in front of about 2,000 people. Then they lifted me up and carried me to the basket, then they would bounce the ball off me. When it was all over, they were signing autographs for the fans and two little kids came up to me and asked for mine. I was so thrilled, they thought I was part of the group but I wasn’t,” laughs O’Fallon.

Fans also have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to determine the rules under which Globetrotters game will be played at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Tuesday.

Visit www.HarlemGlobetrotters.com to vote on the new rule they will add to the game, or vote on social media by visiting their Facebook page The Original Harlem Globetrotters or on Twitter @Globies.

For tickets to the Harlem Globetrotters Feb. 12 show at the SOEC visit www.ValleyFirstTix.com or the SOEC box office.

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