By Brian Swartz
Weekly Staff Editor
Pink runs silly on the basketball court this spring as the Harlem Globetrotters stress breast-cancer awareness during their current world tour.
For 6-1 Globetrotters’ guard Shane “Scooter” Christensen, the subject is particularly important. “My grandmother has had breast cancer,” he explained during a March 13 tour of Bangor-area media outlets and schools.
The Globetrotters made their annual appearance at the Bangor Auditorium six days later and, as always, delighted fans with the team’s trademark basketball plays and humor. During the first few minutes, the Globetrotters played with special pink Spalding basketballs and wore pink wristbands.
The team is supporting the breast-cancer awareness and education provided by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. In a press release, Komen Vice President of Marketing Dorothy Jones said, “We’re excited to be teaming up with the iconic Harlem Globetrotters for a partnership that will not only help raise funds for research, but help us reach women and families with education about breast cancer.”
The March 19 game marked a return visit to the Queen City for Christensen, now in his eighth season with the Globetrotters. He was “born and raised in Las Vegas,” where he played basketball and soccer. “I’ve been playing basketball since I was five,” he said. “For me the most passion was basketball. It gave me the most joy” with the sport’s “constant motion” and the ability to “switch from offense to defense.”
Christensen earned team MVP honors while playing guard for his high school’s varsity squad, which won a Nevada state championship. A Fulbright Scholarship took him to play for the Grizzlies at the University of Montana in Missoula and to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology there in 2002. A point guard, he was twice named Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Christensen later worked as a video coordinator and practice player for the Phoenix Suns. One day a Globetrotters’ scout — that organization is also based in Phoenix — noticed Christensen as he played a pickup game with other Suns’ players.
The Globetrotters contacted Christensen and offered him a position on the team. He never looked back.
According to Christensen, the Globetrotters began their current tour on Dec. 26, 2012. The team will travel throughout the United States before finishing the season.
“We are on the road about six-to-eight months a year,” said Christiansen. He has toured overseas with the Globetrotters; “I’ve been to Africa twice,” he said. “I’ve been to Jerusalem.”
In 2006 he participated in a 21-day Middle Eastern tour that took the Globetrotters to play before American troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. The team entertained Coalition troops in Baghdad and spent Dec. 11-13 aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), where Christensen watched F-18 Hornets land and take off.
“The only thing I could think about was ‘Top Gun,’” said Christensen, an avid movie buff who counts more than 700 movie titles in his DVD collection. During long bus rides between games in the States, he sometimes plays a current title to entertain the other players.
This year the Globetrotters are making their “You Write The Rules Tour,” during which fans at each game vote on which outlandish rule will apply to each quarter. The rules include a four-point shot and “even us playing with two basketballs at the same time,” Christensen said.
“It’s a lot of fun. Only the Globetrotters can pull it off,” he said with a smile.
The current Globetrotter tour stresses raising breast-cancer awareness. In the opening minutes of each game, the Globetrotters wear pink wrist bands and play with a pink basketball; the idea, Christensen explained, is to show the team’s commitment to defeating breast cancer.
“We are showing our support for the families that do have it,” he explained. “We want to show that we support this year round. We sell pink wrist bands at our games.” One dollar of each wristband sale goes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Christensen relishes the off-court support that the Globetrotters gives to such organizations as the Make-A-Wish Foundation. While in Bangor on March 13, he presented the “The ABCs of Bullying Prevention” program to students at Abraham Lincoln School in Bangor. Developed jointly with the National Campaign to Stop Violence, the program stresses action, bravery, and compassion.
Christensen talked a few minutes about participating in the Globetrotters’ Smile Patrol, a team initiative that takes players into some 200 hospitals each year to visit ill children. He recalled “a very sick little boy” who, in all his time at a Las Vegas hospital, “they told me he never smiled.”
Christensen spent time visiting with the boy, who suddenly broke into a smile as the good humor evident everywhere that the Globetrotters travel filled his room.
“That was something else, to see him smile,” Christensen said.