Anthony Blakes was 5 years old when he cut a hole in his father’s hat so he could shoot hoops with tennis balls. Now his Harlem Globetrotter teammates call him “Buckets” because he scores a lot of baskets in a hurry.
Blakes and the internationally renowned basketball team is bringing high-flying slam dunks and crowd-pleasing antics to the Columbus Civic Center Tuesday, March 13.
These 2012 Globetrotters feature a class of diverse rookie players, including Paul “Tiny” Sturgess of Loughborough, England, who stands 7-feet, 8-inches and is the tallest basketball player in the professional sport. Jonte “Too Tall” Hall is the shortest Globetrotter on record at 5-feet 2 inches, and Fatima “TNT” Maddox of Temple University is the first female teammate since 1993.
“People can expect to see some of the greatest basketball players in the world,” Blake said, “doing some amazing slam dunks and taking the most amazing trick shots that they’ve probably ever seen in their life.”
Globetrotter newcomer Jacob Tucker won the slam dunk portion of the 2011 College Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championships during the Final Four festivities last March. The 5-foot-10 Illinois College graduate has a 50-inch vertical leap that earned him the nickname “Hops.” Teammates John “Jet” Williams was the slam dunk runner-up behind Tucker and Darnell “Spider” Wilks was a semi-finalist.
The entertaining hoopters grace every corner of the U.S. while on tour, and play about 150 games outside of the country each year. Blake’s favorite part about being a Harlem Globetrotter is the world travel.
“It’s getting to learn some life skills,” the 10-year veteran said. “Traveling all over the world, being more versatile as a human being. It opens doors and builds relationships and friendships.”
Community outreach is front and center for the Globetrotters. Team members visit schools with their C.H.E.E.R. For Character program (Cooperation, Healthy mind and body, Effort, Enthusiasm and Responsibility), where they turn their ball-handling skills into motivational activities for young students. The SPIN Program, “Some Play Is Necessary,” targets childhood obesity, and takes the players to recreation centers where they encourage youngsters to be physically active. The Smile Patrol features visits to hospital pediatric wards, where, Blake said, “we try to get as many smiles out of the kids as possible.”
Making people smile is the name of the game for the Harlem Globetrotters.
“We pull people out of the crowd and have fun with them,” Blake said. “They’re going to be smiling for at least two hours of their day.”
Fatima “TNT” Maddox
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Birthdate: December 1983
Height: 5-feet, 6-inches
College: Temple University 2007
Of note: Rookie TNT Maddox is just the ninth woman to play for the Globetrotters, and the first since 1993. (The first woman to ever play for a men’s professional basketball team was a Globetrotter – Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard). TNT didn’t start playing until she stumbled upon the game on the playground at the age of 13. She also played volleyball and participated in track in field during her teenage years. TNT began her college career at New Mexico before transferring to Temple, where she was coached by three-time Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley.
Shane “Scooter” Christensen
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev.
Birthdate: November, 1978
Height: 6-feet, 1-inch
Weight: 172 pounds
College: University of Montana, 2002
Of note: Scooter holds the Guinness World Record for the longest time spinning a basketball on one’s head and one’s nose. Scooter’s talents were on display for a national TV audience on two Globetrotter specials on ESPN2 in 2010 from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Scooter has also appeared on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” “Hell’s Kitchen” “The Bachelorette,” and “The Wendy Williams Show.”
Nate "Big Easy" Lofton
Hometown: New Orleans, La.
Birthdate: April 1981
Height: 6-feet, 9-inches
Weight: 250 pounds
College: Southeastern Louisiana University, 2005
Of note: Technically, Big Easy shares his nickname with his hometown of New Orleans. But it's also fitting for his size. He's known as the funniest Globetrotter on the team. He competed with Herb "Flight Time" Lang on "The Amazing Race," placing fourth and came in second on "The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business."
Anthony "Buckets" Blakes
Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.
Birthdate: December 1976
Height: 6-feet, 2-inches
Weight: 192 pounds
College: University of Wyoming, 2000