If you are anything like me, then you have been fascinated by the Harlem Globetrotters for pretty much your entire life. Since being founded in 1926, the Harlem Globetrotters have been capturing global attention for decades, passing down their immense basketball talent, entertainment skills, and mind boggling tricks literally through generations. Of course, as you all know, last year was tough in many different capacities, and for those of us that are sports lovers, our outlet is, well, sports. For the first time in our lives, sports were completely taken away from us, and the world stopped. Whether you were an athlete or an avid sports fan, that period of time felt like a part of your life was missing.
ONE37pm Has A Conversation With The Harlem Globetrotters
We spoke with the legends
Now over a year later sports are fully back, and so are the Harlem Globetrotters. Kicking off their 2021 Spread Game Tour, the Globetrotters are putting on a show as usual, while welcoming the addition of some new on-court characters. The tour has been a massive success so far, with plenty more U.S and International dates lined up through October. We caught up with players Nate aka “Big Easy,” Corey aka “Thunder,” and Cherelle aka “Torch” to discuss how the season is going so far, what it means to them to represent black excellence on and off the court, and the meaning behind being a Harlem Globetrotter.
ONE37pm: First of all, we just wanted to congratulate you guys on the tour! How has that been for you guys so far?
Big Easy: It’s been good! We haven’t been out here in about sixteen months, and I think the fans need something to do right now because everybody has been locked up due to Covid. It’s been good to just get out there and make people smile, and give them something to do with their families. We are doing that times 10!
Thunder: I’ll piggyback off what Easy said. The last sixteen months has not been what we’re accustomed to, and one thing the world definitely needed was the Globetrotters. We’re representing joy and spreading it all over the world creating memories. It’s definitely been good to get back to what we love, and I’m enjoying it!
Torch: I feel the same as the guys! To get back into these arenas and see these fans has been nice.
ONE37pm: This piece is about getting to know you all off the court. For those that don’t know you on a personal level, what do you like off the court? What are your hobbies and interests?
Big Easy: I’m a girl and boy dad! I’ve got two girls and two boys. For me, I’m all about spending time with my family. I’ve been a licensed real estate agent for the past six years, and I’m big into that. Especially during Covid where I had time to be home consecutive months. I’m all about that and doing good for the next generation. I’m trying to teach kids what I’ve learned at 30 and 40, and give them that knowledge at 17. I talk to these kids not about basketball, but about the importance of having credit, saving money, and just things in general that you aren’t taught in the black community. My dad passed and he never had a debit card. My mother is 60 and she still doesn’t have a credit card. I want to help those that are coming behind me understand what’s important. I’m a golfer too, and I just ordered some new golf clubs. Hopefully my game will get better! I like to chill, sit back, and relax.
Thunder: I’m a girl dad! When I’m not working, whatever I do involves them. I enjoy being with my family and friends, and if it’s a weekend you are definitely going to catch me at somebody’s brunch. I’ve got to get my brunch and mimosas in! I also just picked up golfing and I’m into real estate as well. I’ve got a few properties and have some real estate in Florida, so that’s been going well. I just enjoy life, and I’m very happy and outgoing. The person I am on the court is who I am off of it. I like to dance, laugh, and have a good time.
Torch: I love to play flag football! I’m a daughter and a sister, and I love all sports. I’m into acting which I began doing after Covid, and I started spending time with family during the downtime that we had. I was just trying to make up for time that we normally spend on the road because you miss a lot of memories. During Covid I just tried to do other things because even though I love the game of basketball, I love other sports and family time too.
ONE37pm: The Harlem Globetrotters exemplify black excellence on and off the court, and you guys are working together to target racial and social injustice, anti-bullying, and just using your voices in general to make a change. Could you speak a little more about that?
Big Easy: I think it’s super important. I did the Amazing Race three times, and I wanted to do it because I knew 14 million people were going to be watching. That was also good for the Globetrotters from a PR standpoint. I wanted all the black and brown kids to look on the screen and see a black athlete that could compete for a million dollars, and wasn’t a bad person that was getting in trouble, being disrespectful to women, etc. I wanted them to see somebody who was doing all of these cool things in the community.
I’m straight from the projects in New Orleans, and I understand what some of these kids are going through, but I want them to know that I’m on the other side. They need to know that the stuff they are going through is part of their journey, not their destination. I’ve been through all of the same things, and I want them to feel that they can come out and do it better than me. I love that responsibility. We started on somebody’s shoulder, so now we have to reach out and pull up.
Thunder: I remember when I first joined the Globetrotters, Big Easy put me on to so much game. The knowledge he spread was so important, and when I go to camps, I’m not talking to kids about basketball. I’m talking to them about how to set themselves up for life because the ball is going to stop bouncing one day. You want to leave a legacy, and that is what I’m about right now. I’m also about breaking curses, and it’s time to break a lot of those cycles that Easy already spoke on. If I could use this Globetrotters name on my chest to get their attention, I am absolutely going to do that.
Torch: I feel that representation is so important. A lot of times at games when I run out with the guys—there’s a great chance that there is a female in the stands that didn’t even know that female globetrotters exist. Everyday I try to be the best that I can be, and just about every night there is a parent that tells me that their daughter was inspired. Being a positive role model for young black and brown girls is all that I can ask for every single night. It’s truly been a blessing to have this position.
ONE37pm: What does it mean to represent the Harlem Globetrotters?
Big Easy: Being a Globetrotter is like being a superhero! We were in an elevator recently, and this man asked if we were really Globetrotters. He was in town with his son who has brain cancer to start radiation treatment for him. He asked if we could take a picture with his son, and we went downstairs to take the picture. There’s no telling what this kid is going through and how his family is suffering, but for that moment he was able to smile, and his mom was able to smile and start crying.
We were able to make a kid who probably hasn’t smiled in weeks, laugh and smile. We could tell you hundreds of stories about our impact around the world and in our communities. When I come home they treat me like a hometown hero, and it’s something that feels good.
Thunder: The Globetrotters have an annual draft, and I was one of the players drafted in 2013. I had just graduated college, and I told my mom that I’d gotten an email from them (the Globetrotters), and she was just so excited. She instantly told me the story of Curly Neal coming to her school, and she remembered it vividly. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into until I played my first game and saw these kids going crazy. I had a chance to meet this kid named Michael George in Houston who was dealing with Leukemia. I visited his class, went to his house, and showed him the Globetrotter video. He started crying and shaking, and he told me how excited he was to see me. To be a part of something like that changed my life. It means a lot to be a Globetrotter.
Torch: I’m fortunate to be a part of an organization that has been changing lives for 95 years globally. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Australia or Tupelo, Mississippi, everybody has the same stories and it trickles down through generations. It’s amazing! I feel it’s our job to keep this legacy going because they talk about the Curly Neals, but one day they are going to talk about Big Easy. It’s like a dream come true. When I come home my family will ask me how Jerusalem was and the rest of my travels. My family looks at me and holds me to a higher standard, and we make them proud. I want to continue the legacy of us being great basketball players and great people.
ONE37pm: Last but not least, what can we expect for the rest of the season?
Big Easy: I look forward to the kids who will experience seeing us for the first time. I want to make sure those same kids are on YouTube showing their children Harlem Globetrotter videos 20 or 30 years from now and passing it on. This has been going on for 95 years and I am not about to mess it up. We’re going to keep this going. I’m getting closer to the end, but I know we’re in good hands. I want to make sure every night there is somebody new watching that leaves in the arena happy. If I do that, nothing else matters.
Thunder: Every night when I’m put on that jersey I feel like a superhero. That’s the swag I have every night. Each game is going to have somebody that has never seen us before, and we might even be in a place where there aren’t many Black people. We want to counter those stereotypes of us, and I want to change any negative mindsets. That’s how I rock and that’s how I feel every game.
Torch: I feel like the guys said everything I was going to say! Whether there’s three people in the stands or hundreds, we are going to do what we do every night. Like Big Easy said, there is a kid each game that hasn’t seen us, and that is who we go hard for.
Be sure to check out the Harlem Globetrotters on tour this season, and visit their official website to purchase tickets. You can also follow the Globetrotters on Instagram.