The world's most famous basketball team was in Tucson Wednesday, and it wasn't the Arizona Wildcats.
The Harlem Globetrot-ters visited the Tucson Convention Center and entertained a crowd of about 5,000 people, most of whom were families.
The Globetrotters are on their Salute the Family World Tour, and they stopped in and showed the crowd that they still have the ability to mesmerize children and confuse opponents.
The victims of the fantastic floor show were once again the Washington Generals, the franchise with the worst winning percentage in all of sports because they are the Globetrotters' traditional opposition.
And once again, the Globetrotters enjoyed a win against the Generals, 65-51. But the real winners were the fans, who got to watch the world's winningest and most entertaining team.
Damien Jackson, 13, who attended the show with his best friend Keni Herron, 14, was totally impressed with what he said were "awesome dunks and really good dribbling."
Added Herron: "It is really different to see them in person as compared to on TV."
Numerous times during the festivities, children and adults were taken from the crowd and asked to perform with either the players or the new Globetrotters' mascot, Globie.
The crowd was aware of the impending doom of the Generals from the start, and gave rousing cheers to even the most mundane of Globetrotter scores.
On one of the most outstanding plays of the evening, former NBA All-Star Darrell "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins rebounded and dunked so hard that the entire basket support system shook.
Dawkins, who was famous for smashing backboards in his NBA career, spared the boards Wednesday.
One of the people who got the most fan reaction was former Arizona State standout Wun Versher, who was ushered into the starting lineup with boos from the crowd. After that, however, he was the fan favorite, because he was the closest thing the Tucson fans had to a hometown player Ä unless you count Joseph Blair, the Arizona men's basketball team's starting center, who was in attendance and received an ovation.
Dawkins and Versher both agreed that the Globetrotters have become a form of extended family for mid
them, and that the camaraderie between the players makes it easier to go out and give a good family show.
"I have never seen an argument in the locker room between these guys," Versher said. "If any of us make a mistake, then we discuss it like a family. I think that is great and I know that is what we try to show the crowds."
Said Dawkins: "I have wanted to be a part of this team since I was eight years old, and now I can say that I am a 38-year-old rookie with the best organization in the world."
Globetrotter coach Tex Harrison said the team has been a large part of his life and that he also considers the players his family.
"It is quite gratifying to go around the world and make the people you see happy," Harrison said. "We like to show the people that we have great athletic ability also. The things that we do are fantastic, and I think that the people notice that."
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A few of the Globetrotters were quite outspoken about other aspects of the basketball community.
As one would probably expect, Versher was extremely excited to talk about ASU's 53-52 win over Arizona Jan. 5 in Tempe.
"I was glad that we beat them because that is by far the biggest thing in the state when it happens," Versher said. "I think that both of the teams are fantastic this year. At least now it will be competitive."
Dawkins, on the other hand, took the opportunity to speak out against his former employer.
"The people that are considered stars (in the NBA today) are people who look to pass before they even think about shooting," Dawkins said. "Off the top of my head, I can only think of Tim and Anfernee Hardaway, of Golden State and Orlando, respectively."
Dawkins also griped about Shawn Kemp of the Seattle Supersonics.
"In my day, the stars were people like Magic (Johnson), Moses (Malone) and Larry (Bird)," Dawkins said. "They could do everything and they do it every night. Sometimes I see Kemp with two (points) and other nights 32. That looks a lot like inconsistency to me and a lot of other people who know basketball."
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