Whether you’re a basketball fan or not, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve encountered the Harlem Globetrotters at some point. The team has been entertaining basketball fans and wider …
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Harlem Globetrotters games
• Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle, Denver
• 1st Bank Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield
Saturday, March 17
Pepsi Center - Noon
1stBank Center - 7 p.m.
Whether you’re a basketball fan or not, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve encountered the Harlem Globetrotters at some point.
The team has been entertaining basketball fans and wider audiences alike since it was founded by Abe Saperstein in 1926. Over the years, the Globetrotters have built a reputation as being especially skilled at tricks, dunks and other displays of court mastery.
But as Firefly Fisher, a guard on the team for the past nine years, can attest, all that ease on the court requires countless hours of work.
“On this team, you have to be entertainers and basketball players,” the 31-year-old New York native said. “You have to be a special individual to do this job, and work extremely hard. But it’s all a positive, especially when you get to introduce basketball to families.”
As part of the Harlem Globetrotters’ 92nd world tour, the team will be stopping by the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle in Denver, at noon and at the 1st Bank Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane in Broomfield, at 7 p.m., both on March 17.
In anticipation of the metro-area stops, we spoke to Fisher about his road to the court, teaching the next generation, and what it’s like to be a member of a team that includes Pope Francis as an honorary member.
How did you get into playing basketball?
I was born and raised in New York. My parents were the ones who introduced me to the game when I was about 5 years old, and I grew up playing in the Boys and Girls Club. I never played any recreational ball for city teams or anything like that, and started on junior varsity in eighth grade.
I guess I was a late bloomer to organized ball, but I just loved it.
Do you remember the first time you saw or heard of the Globetrotters?
I didn’t really watch them as a young kid, but I knew about them because my parents had grown up watching them. What I did know is that they traveled all over and that brought a lot of happiness to people.
Playing for them is a great way to make my parents proud, which is always a goal for a kid.
How did you become a Globetrotter?
I started playing for them in 2009, after being drafted to the team in 2008.
I went to Siena College in upstate New York, and our team went to the NCAA in 2008. I shot 44.4 percent from three-point range as a senior that season and that’s when I was drafted. Since, I’ve been to 65 different countries, and love what I do.
When I tell people I was picked for the team, they always say it’s right up my alley. I was voted class clown as senior, but I was also voted most likely to succeed. I’m just being me.
What is key to being a good member of the Globetrotters?
You have to be a great basketball player, and you have to be willing to listen to all the veteran players.
But what’s most important is you have to respect the culture of Globetrotters. If you come into the organization not knowing the history and sacrifices others made before you, it’s important to learn. You can go learn how to do tricks and stuff, but that’s all after they teach you the history.
Not many people can last with the organization because it’s quite a commitment, and there’s a lot of time away from the family. We’re on the road for more than 200 days a year, and all the stuff people see us doing on the court is only about 40 percent of what we do. The rest of the time we’re visiting schools, talking to students about bullying and character building, and just being ambassadors of good will.
As a Globetrotter, you’ve done some military tours. What is it like playing for people serving in the armed forces?
We’ve done six military tours, and it’s a great experience every time. In my first year, we went to Iraq, and just three years ago, we went to Afghanistan. We did our first-ever Hoops for the Troops event in Hawaii this December.
It’s so amazing to put smiles on the men and women who serve our country. And few people can relate to being away from their families and helping people like they can.
What do you do for fun or to relax when you’re not playing?
I spend time with my family, and I have my own basketball camp back home, which I’ve run for 14 years.
I’ve always worked with kids, and always tried to be a positive role model to them. In a way, I was a Globetrotter before I officially became one. There’s nothing better than going back to your community and teaching kids. I don’t want to forget where I came from, and want my hometown to be successful as possible.
What’s your favorite part about being a Globetrotter?
Putting smiles on people’s faces. So many people have bad days or are facing challenges in their life — like relationships, financial or school. But when you come to a Harlem Globetrotter game, you’re guaranteed to forget about your problems for two hours.
You don’t have to love basketball to love the Globetrotters, because at our games you’re going to laugh, hear great music and get to party. It’s an experience everyone should have at some time.
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