The Harlem Globetrotters have been around for more than 95 years, but when they come to Savannah it won’t be the same ol’ ‘Trotters taking the floor.
The team’s gone through a rebranding, which includes not only the uniforms — which pay homage to the red, white and blue models we’ve seen for decades — but also the team’s performance on the court.
Beginning July 1, the team moved to update its look with new uniforms, which are now largely black with red, white and blue trim. The makeover came as the team kicked off its 150-city Spread Game Tour that travels to the Martin Luther King Jr. Arena July 28 at 7 p.m.
When the Globetrotters come to town, it will be a homecoming for one member of the team: Rochell “Wham” Middleton. The Lilburn, Georgia, native played in the North American Basketball League for the Savannah Cavaliers before joining the Globetrotters in 2018 and being named the team’s Top Rookie.
Prior to that, he attended Savannah State University, studying public relations and advertising. He also played baseball and football growing up and credits his grandfather and dad for his falling in love with hoops.
Like many of the past and current Globetrotters, Middleton hold world records: the record for farthest behind-the-back basketball shot.
Middleton sank a basket from 45-feet, 6-inches away last October. He also holds the record for most bounced basketball figure-eight moves blindfolded in one minute at 63, which he completed Oct. 16, 2019. Both records were achieved during Guinness World Record Day for each year.
The records involve skills fans typically see during a game. The new-look Globetrotters particular brand of hoops is called the Spread Game. Essentially, it relies on fast moves, quick passes and a stunning dribbling game — typically against an overmatched Washington Generals team. However, its more than just a description of their style of play, it’s a nod to the players who’ve entertained millions during nearly a full century of basketball.
In many cases, the moves will look familiar to basketball fans outside of the ‘Trotters too.
“All of the NBA is playing like the Harlem Globetrotters, showcasing moves we’ve been defining for decades,” said Jeff Munn, executive vice president and general manager. “The Spread Game Tour is a chance to satisfy our fans’ undeniable thirst for exceptional basketball while continuing at trailblazers in an ever-changing culture.”
To that end, the team wants to move beyond inspiring NBA players, instead it wants to compete against them. The last time an NBA team — the Lakers — played against the Globetrotters, it lost and for the second consecutive year. The Globetrotters are circulating a petition to push the NBA to grant them a franchise. No response from the NBA thus far.
In addition to impacting professional players, the tour gives the players a chance to expand their roles as goodwill ambassadors. While they’re still teaching kids to spin a ball on their finger or a cool dribbling move, they’ll also support social justice and community programs aimed at broadening the education of children.
Catch the team, their record-breaking moves and all the fun tonight at 7 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Arena at 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave. Purchase tickets for the Harlem Globetrotter Spread Game Tour in Savannah at ticketmaster.com. Prices start at $14 and range up to $75, plus taxes and fees.