Originally Posted Online: Jan. 05, 2013, 11:36 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 06, 2013, 12:28 am

Globetrotters entertain the crowds at the i wireless Center

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By Laura Anderson Shaw landerson@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Carol Zuniga is reluctant to open the gift that Harlem Globetrotter Big Easy Lofton presents to her at half court during the Globetrotters' game at the i wireless Center in Moline on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Several spectators were brought onto the court to help the Globetrotters perform their signature style of basketball comedy.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Harlem Globetrotter Bull Bullard taunts the referee during the team's game at the i wireless Center in Moline on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. The Globetrotters entertained a crowd of thousands with basketball skills and slapstick routines.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
The Harlem Globetrotters performed at the i wireless Center in Moline on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Thousands attended the basketball game/comedy show to see the world-famous team and their basketball talents.

MOLINE — Few things in this world are as entertaining as the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters.

The thousands of folks who gathered Saturday night at the i wireless Center — myself included! — can attest to that.

Watching the antics that unfolded in front of our eyes was like watching a well-written movie — you could see it a dozen times and catch something new each time.

While hanging from a hoop,"Bull" Bullard scooped up a ball and made a basket with his feet. Several players took turns making three- and four-point shots. Bull even went out into the stands to try his luck at making a basket from the lower bowl.

You simply could not watch it all at once.

The last time I caught a Globetrotters game, I was probably waist-high to the 7-foot-4 player, "Stretch" Middleton. As a kid, the Globetrotters seemed larger-than-life and wildly astonishing. I remember staring down at the court with wide eyes and a huge smile.

Seeing it as an adult -- though I probably still don't stand much taller than Stretch's waist -- wasn't much different. Like the pint-sized audience and their parents, the game had me laughing, clapping and cheering.

The ballgame going on between the jokes, dance breaks and more was just as awesome as the show. The boys -- Globetrotters and the opposing team, Global Select, alike -- are hugely talented. The "world championship" game at stake might have been fake, but the ball-handling and baskets made were certainly real, whether they were made with hands or feet.

The fans seemed to also really enjoy the Globetrotters' mascot, Globie, and his "big brother," Big G. Jayde Gomez, 7, of Bettendorf, said her favorite part of the show was when Big G -- who rivaled Stretch in height -- fell face-first onto the court to break open the shell of a pistachio.

Holding a miniature stuffed Globie, Jayde said she really enjoyed watching the Globetrotters "'cause they do tricks."

Her big brother, Kole Temple, 11, enjoyed watching the tricks and plays interspersed into the game.

At one point during the game, Bull and "Scooter" Christensen had to carry the team while the other three players goofed around. Kole said he really enjoyed that part and would recommend people catch a game the next time the team's in town.

His friend, Dalton Hout, 10, of Bettendorf, agreed.

"I like the tricks and the funny jokes that they do," he said, especially when a Global Select player, whom the team and announcer had dubbed "Justin Bieber," had his uniform ripped off and he continued to play in boxer shorts.

"It's really fun just experiencing all of the tricks that you might want to do grow up to do," Dalton said.

Jayde and Kole's mom, Kari, said the game was "entertaining and the kids enjoy it. It's something we can do as a family."

Throughout the game, players danced, played tricks on one another and the crowd by stealing purses and fake basketballs, and showed off their unbelievably brilliant ball-handling skills.

They pulled fans onto the court to spin balls and dance, and one player even stood -- and then laid -- on top of a hoop to block a Select shot.

Being the Globetrotters' "You Write the Rules" World Tour, fans also had the chance to do just that. They saw players play with two balls at once during the first two minutes of a quarter; four-point shot spots were activated and more, which added another dimension to game play. The announcer would tell the crowd which new rule would be thrown into play at the beginning of each quarter.

Blake Reed, of Cambridge, brought his kids to the game because he remembered enjoying the Globetrotters when he was their age.

"It's pretty awesome," his son, Austin, 12, said. "I like all of the tricks, and 'Big Easy' is pretty funny."

Team showman "Big Easy" Lofton was definitely one of the crowd's favorites. He was a trouble maker with the refs and the Selects -- at one point he took the ball from a fouled player making free throws to shoot some for himself -- and he kept the crowd laughing throughout the night.

"It's really funny," said Austin's sister, Miranda, 6.

When it came to her favorite trick, she couldn't pick one. "All of them," she said.

Their big sister Megan, 14, said the game was "cool."

"I like it. It's different," she said.

The family said they'd love to come to another game the next time the Globetrotters visit the Quad-Cities.

"It's great entertainment, and a lot of fun for the kids," Mr. Reed said.

"They've been laughing a lot. That's what counts."