Rain halts Globetrotter’s dribble drive over Penobscot Bridge; ‘Jet’ Williams delivers anti-bullying message

Posted Sept. 16, 2013, at 5:54 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 16, 2013, at 8:23 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — John “Jet” Williams was supposed to kick off Globetrotter Week in Maine in style, until a sudden downpour forced a timeout.

The Harlem Globetrotter was dribbling, dancing and spinning across the Penobscot Bridge from Brewer to Bangor Monday and was three-fourths of the way across the bridge before the overcast sky erupted into heavy rain, halting his trek to the All Saints Catholic School in Bangor. Bangor police arrived to escort Williams to the school so he could deliver his planned anti-bullying message to nearly 200 students.

Williams was greeted with honks, beeps and whistles from passersby during his dribble drive across the bridge until the weather halted him.

Williams has been with the Globetrotters since graduating from the University of North Carolina-Asheville in 2011, but for him, being a part of this team is about more than fancy dribbling moves.

“Being able to travel, to deliver a positive message when you’re playing the game of basketball [is great],” Williams said. “Being a world-famous Harlem Globetrotter and a part of such a rich history — a team that’s been around for 88 years — that’s on your back. So you want to make sure that wherever you go, you want to deliver the best and most positive experience possible.”

The Globetrotters can now add the Penobscot Bridge to the list of bridges they’ve dribbled across throughout their history. Others include the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia and the Key Bridge in Washington.

This is Williams’ third visit to Maine, and his first try at kicking off Globetrotter Week with this time-honored tradition.

“It just represents what we do in a sense of, we’re Globetrotters, so we’re always moving; we’re always doing something new. We wanted to be the first to cross several bridges,” he said. “This bridge is actually one of the ones we wanted to be the first dribble across, so it’s a personal milestone for us.”

Williams joked about the possibility of losing his basketball in the Penobscot River before he began his trip across the bridge, but ultimately had no control over whether the ball got wet.

Despite the rain, Williams’ trip across the bridge initiates a week’s worth of events for the Globetrotters in the area that culminates with two games this weekend at the new Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The $65 million arena will also host the majority of home games for the University of Maine basketball teams this winter.

“I saw [the arena] this morning, and I’m very excited to play,” Williams said. “I feel like the University of Maine is going to have a good time there.”

Although he makes a living playing basketball, Williams said the main push this week is to promote bullying prevention.

“We have a social responsibility to the environment and to the community,” he said. “The goal is to entertain, but also to make sure [the kids] come out with something new and positive that they can use on an everyday basis at school.”

The Globetrotters will break in the new floor at the Cross Insurance Center with two games Friday and Saturday night. Tipoff for both contests is scheduled for 7 p.m.