Playing by your rules


The Harlem Globetrotters bring their 2013 “You Write the Rules Tour” to the O’Connell Center for a performance at 7 tonight. (Courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters)

Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 8:30 a.m.

Two years ago Harlem Globetrotter Kevin “Special K” Daley met a fan who would impact his life forever.

Facts

The Harlem Globetrotters

What: Comedic basketball team performs on its 2013 “You Write the Rules Tour”
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: O’Connell Center, 2020 W. University Ave.
Tickets: $24-$37, VIP tickets are $54 and courtside VIP tickets are $85.
Info: 800-745-3000, Ticketmaster.com

She came up to him after a game and simply asked him to autograph her jeans. They interacted for a few minutes and Daley made her smile, but he thought that was it.

A few weeks later, however, he received an email from the woman. She told him she had been battling cancer and the way Daley made her feel for those three minutes made her so happy that if it was the last thing she did in her life, she wouldn’t mind it at all.

“It’s the stories like these that make me continue to do what I do,” he says.

Daley, along with other Harlem Globetrotters — including “Flight Time” Lang, 7-foot-8 “Tiny” Sturgess, 5-foot-2 “Too Tall” Hall (the shortest Globetrotter ever) and female star “T-Time” Brawner — hope to create lasting memories with tonight’s performance at the O’Connell Center starting at 7.

While the Globetrotters have performed many times over the years at the University of Florida arena, this year’s appearance by the showstopping team adds a fresh twist to an old tradition. On the current “You Write the Rules Tour,” fans get to decide the rules of the game, whether it’s playing with two basketballs, getting double points for each score or the 4-point shot — which is 12 feet further than the NBA 3-point line.

Before the show, participants can go to www.harlemglobetrotters.com and vote for which rule they’d like to see implemented in the game. The rules that received the highest votes will be announced live at the performance.

The Globetrotters have long been known as innovators in the game of basketball, says “Slick” Willie Shaw, who has played with the team for the past nine seasons. The Globetrotters are known for popularizing tricks such as the alley-oop and slam dunk, and are always trying to add new things to their performance that haven’t been seen or done before in the game, he says.

Shaw says that since the tour started on Dec. 26, he has only gotten positive reactions from fans. “We wanted our fans’ voices to be heard and to also entertain them,” he says. “So if they want us to play with two basketballs, that’s what we’ll give them.”

Before each quarter of the game performance, one of the winning rules will be announced. Shaw says playing with two basketballs and the 4-point shot have been crowd favorites so far. However, for the last quarter the audience will vote live on which rule they want to see in the game.

“It’s great because the crowd really gets into it,” he says. “It’s the best feeling when it’s a close game and I hit the four because the crowd goes crazy. I’ve had times when little kids come up to me after the game and say, ‘Slick, whew that was a close one.’ It makes me laugh; kids are funny.”

For part of the game, the Globetrotters will be playing with a pink basketball to help promote breast cancer awareness. Pink wristbands also will be sold at merchandise stands and part of the proceeds from them will benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

Fans also will have the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with the Globetrotters before the game where they can shoot, get autographs, take pictures and learn tricks with the pros. Along with the 30-minute pre-show, “Magic Pass,” players also will stay on the court to take photos after the performance.

“It’s great family entertainment and no matter what you’re going through in your life at the time, it’s guaranteed you will have a good time for at least those two hours,” Special K says. “I do this everyday, still enjoy it and laugh everyday like it was my first time. So I can only imagine how fun it is for those who come once or twice every year. It’s a lot different than any other basketball game that you could go to.”

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