Harlem Globetrotters to hold court in Parkersburg

Jan. 14 stop on ‘Fan-Powered World Tour’

Photo by Brett Meister, provided by the Harlem Globetrotters Harlem Globetrotters guard Handles Franklin dances with young fans at a game in Greenville, S.C.

PARKERSBURG — When the Original Harlem Globetrotters take the court at the Parkersburg High School Memorial Fieldhouse on Jan. 14, a young child might be inspired to start building up his or her own basketball talent.

One day, that same child’s skills might reach a level that would allow him or her to join the fabled team.

That’s what happened to “Handles” Franklin.

“I wanted to be a Globetrotter since I was 6 years old,” Franklin said in a recent interview. “I’m actually living a dream.”

Watching the animated adventures of the Globetrotters in his youth, Franklin was particularly enamored of the ballhandling skills of Globetrotters legend Curly Neal.

“I picked up a ball, and I never put it back down,” he said.

Franklin is in his 12th year with the Globetrotters, who will bring their unique brand of basketball to Parkersburg as part of the 2019 Fan-Powered World Tour. One of his favorite parts of the job is the ability to travel — he’s been to all 50 states and 38 countries with the team — “and put smiles on faces everywhere.

“It’s great to be part of an organization that’s about finding the goodness in people,” Franklin said. “It’s about giving it back to the fans, and we try to make them a part of the show.”

According to a press release from the Globetrotters, there will be more than 20 opportunities before, during and after the game for fans to directly interact with the players, a 30 percent increase over previous events. That comes in the form of the on-court Magic Pass pregame event, an exclusive add-on purchase with regular tickets, and a free post-game autograph session, as well as antics during the game itself.

The Globetrotters have been a basketball institution for more than 90 years, something Franklin credits to the team’s ability to adapt to the times, whether that’s by adding a four-point shot or taking the interactivity to the virtual realm with an interactive mobile app. The app’s exclusive features include an augmented reality basketball-toss game and image filters to share on social media.

Accompanying the Globetrotters to the fieldhouse in January will be the Flying Globies, a gravity-defying, acrobatic dunk team that recently set the Guinness World Record for most under-the-leg slam dunks by a team using a trampoline in one minute. It’s one of five records the team set, bringing its total to 21.

Forward Zeus McClurkin set his own marks with five blindfolded slam dunks in one minute and three behind-the-back three-pointers in a minute. Torch George, one of the team’s female stars, tallied a record 32 under-the-leg basketball tumbles in a minute, while guard Bull Bullard sank a 58-foot, 1™-inch somersault shot.

A video of the records can be seen online at newsandsentinel.com.

More information about the Parkersburg event is available at harlemglobetrotters.com. Tickets can be acquired there, via ticketweb.com or at the PHS athletic office.