BANGOR, Maine — The final score was Harlem Globetrotters 83, Washing-ton Generals 70.
Now that we have that little, trivial detail out of the way, let’s get down to the real story.
The Harlem Globetrotters visited the Bangor Auditorium Monday night, and aside from keeping their winning streak against the Generals intact (the Generals haven’t won a game in this 82-year rivalry since 1971), they entertained approximately 3,000 fans with their unique brand of basketball.
For some in attendance, it might have been more like a $16.50 therapy session.
“In this day and time, without a doubt we can make people forget their problems for two hours,” said third-year head coach Clyde Sinclair, a Globetrotter player for 18 years. “The way the world is right now, they’re looking for an outlet.
“You’ve got foreclosure, losing jobs, many different problems, but when you come to a Globetrotters game, you just forget about every-thing and have laughter and joy.”
From the look of things, there was plenty of both, on and off the court.
And right from the start — complete with a booming introduction and the players’ entrance through smoke, music, lights and a 20-foot-tall, illuminated inflatable figure — to the end — a 30-minute, on-court autograph session with all the Globetrotters — and almost all points in between, it was athleticism, antics, amusement and applause.
Players such as Ant Atkinson (at 5-foot-10, the shortest player on the court), Tiny Lawrence (the tallest at 7 feet), El Gato Melendez, Rocket Rivers, Special K Daley, Bear Butler, and Scooter Christensen entertained fans with their ballhandling skills, dribbling prowess, physical talent and showmanship.
Christensen, the team’s unofficial ballhandling specialist, showed off his skill by dribbling two balls at the same time on the run, spinning one on top of the other, and then bouncing a ball off his head 11 times before having it coming to a rest on his head.
“I think one of the best parts about this is putting smiles on kids’ faces,” Christensen said.
The players weren’t the only ones to join in the fun or exhibit some skills. Christensen brought out 10-year-old Jessica Barton of Dover-Foxcroft to spin a ball on the tip of her finger. A man in his 20s or 30s was recruited right off the side-line — soda and hot dog in hand — to show off some dance moves. Another woman let Daley borrow her purse and came out to join him in a center court dance before Daley recruited a male fan to take his place. For her cooperation, she was given Daley’s “sweaty wristband,” and her purse back.
While the score ranged from 6-0 Harlem to 21-17 after the first quarter, 40-35 at halftime, and 60-55 after three quarters, the Generals coach unloaded his own bag of tricks in a fruitless attempt to take the lead and win.
Everything from a rigged, remote control ball to a clear, plexiglass cover over Harlem’s basket, to commandeering the scoreboard control and adding 11 points to Washington’s score (giving the Generals a 66-60 lead heading into the final quarter) was tried in an effort to end the Generals’ losing streak.
Even after exposing the score-board trick, Daley told the referee to let the score stand. One minute and three Washington turnovers later, the score was tied and the ’Trotters soon had the lead back for good.
And yes, Daley executed the team’s famous water gag, emptying both a cup and bucket — both ap-parently full of water — at fans who flinched or ducked as confetti flew all over.
Daley also played quarterback as he showed fans “Globetrotters football,” which involved him calling out a count, taking a handoff, fading back, and throwing a touchdown pass to Rivers, and then rewinding it by having everyone run the play in reverse.
Oh, and there was a mock arrest as Daley got a Bangor policeman to loan him his handcuffs and cuff a Generals player for a hard foul.
“Some of the families who come to our shows, not everybody has a good day,” said Christensen. “Maybe somebody’s down and out, but we can make you smile for two hours and make you forget about what’s going on in your life.”