The Harlem Globetrotters have not lost in eight years and have only been defeated 345 times in more than 22,000 games, so to say that they won their game against the World All-Stars Friday at Romema Arena in Haifa would not be news.
But the Globetrotters won over their Israeli audience while emerging victorious 112-108 in a game that became close after a basket scored by a child from the crowd awarded 19 points to the challengers and tied the game with less than a minute left to play.
The Globetrotters took advantage of the innovations that are part of their games, including four-point shot circles 35-feet away from the basket to rack up points. Scoring with the help of teammates lifting players on their shoulders and standing on the rim were additional ideas that have not been adopted by the NBA but added to the entertainment of the game.
The star of the show for the Globetrotters was Ant Atkinson, who interacted with the crowd in Hebrew, played tricks on a referee he affectionately called Shrek and scored a shot with his feet. Several children from the crowd were brought into the game, including a girl named Noa, who allowed a ball to be spun on her head in typical Globetrotters style.
Updating the game for the social media era, the 88-year-old Globetrotters team introduced voting by Twitter for special rules that would be used in each quarter. In the first quarter, trick shots were awarded five points.
The second quarter started with two players. One was added whenever a shot was made and one removed when shots were missed. After halftime, players wearing orange jerseys were given twice as many points for their baskets before the trick shot five-point rule was added for the final quarter.
Players named Firely, Flip, Moose, and a 7-4 (2 meters, 20 cm) center named Stretch entertained the crowd. But a player named Sweet J stole the show with her antics.
A highlight of the game came when the referee’s call was challenged with a slow-motion rewind and replay that the players reenacted in entertaining fashion. Floating beach balls that replaced the game ball gave new meaning to the term air-ball.
The game ended in dramatic fashion, with Israelis shoving each other in makeshift lines for autographs that provided real tension on the parquet floor.
No one was injured.
Two rematches of the two teams were set yesterday at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena, as The Globetrotters won both games.