There was a time, years ago, when the Harlem Globetrotters were a really big deal. During my formative years (child of the '80s here), before Vince McMahon usurped the term "sports entertainment" for his World Wrestling Federation, the Globetrotters were the epitome of sports entertainment.
It was basketball meets physical comedy, all sprinkled in confetti. It was Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal. It was Geese Ausbie and Sweet Lou Dunbar. So adept at their basketball magic were the 'Trotters that my friends and I just assumed they weren't an NBA team because the NBA wouldn't allow them in the league...because they'd go 82-0.
Just ask the Washington Generals, right?
How big were the Globetrotters back in the day? Big enough to appear routinely on Scooby Doo and to have their own episode of Gilligan's Island. In 1980-something, to a 12-year-old kid, that was as big as it got.
Today, the Globetrotters franchise still exists, but it's a shell of what it once was. What used to be a team with some celebrity buzz is today a faceless roster of fourth-tier college players with one-word nicknames. It's a little sad, I won't lie, but if the Globetrotters want to re-engage me as a fan, they may have found a way to do it.
Meet "Bull," 6-foot-4 guard out of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
(The Globetrotters roster, for whatever reason, actually refuses to give real names, leaving us to believe that "Flight Time," "Handles" and "Quake" are actually their real names.)
At a game Friday at the Nacional de Ingenieros Coliseum in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Bull tried what I'm assuming is a signature move of his, the old "alley oop and hang on the rim and climb onto the face of the backboard" maneuver. Here's what happened, with brief Zapruder analysis afterwards:
0:01 -- The first thing you notice about this Globetrotters game is their opponent is not the Washington Generals! For those of you under the age of 25, the Generals were (and domestically may still be, I have no idea) the team of largely Caucasian tomato cans that the Globetrotters used to beat like a drum every night, like basketball's version of WWE jobbers like Frankie Williams.
0:04 -- The Globetrotters run an extravagant weave that the opposition defends with the nonexistent defensive intensity of a baked stoner. Or James Harden on an average NBA night. Whichever comparison works for you. The player before "Bull" in the sequence lays the ball off the backboard for the alley oop, and.....
0:06 -- BOOM! SEND IT IN, BULL!!! Wait, wha'....
0:07 -- ....oh no....
0:08 -- ....oh God...no....
0:09 -- ....GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY!! GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY!! IT KILLED HIM....GOD AS MY WITNESS, HE IS BROKEN IN HALF!! Serious question, do we know if anybody has applied Jim Ross's "Hell in a Cell '98" call to this video, like they did to LeBron's dunk on Jason Terry or this kid who is tired of getting bullied? If not, you really need to step up your game, Internet. Very disappointed in your effort.
0:10 -- Okay, but seriously...um, holy shit? The good people of Honduras were out for a nice family night of silly string, wedgies and confetti buckets and damn near saw a guillotine-style beheading! That was crazy. I mean, the lower Americas have seen the 'Trotters shatter backboards before...
....but this is the first time they've seen someone practically die.
0:15 -- As it turns out, Bull merely suffered a laceration on his forehead and (presumably) a really sore back and some soiled undies.
0:26 -- Bull, towel sponging his face, gets a hero's sendoff as he walks past teammate Special K (real name, something that begins with the letter K, I assume). This is where the crowd would start chanting "ECW! ECW! ECW!" and showering the court with chairs if this were a professional wrestling event. Instead, they politely clap and halfheartedly cheer. Hey, no big deal, Honduras....dude only almost DIED for you.
This brings me back to my original premise, my return to Globetrotter enthusiast.
Many of the best business ideas are stumbled upon randomly. I have to be honest, if they want to get me back in the building to watch Globetrotter basketball, this might be the ticket. Basketball combined with death-defying, self-mutilation-style stunts. Like And 1 meets Jackass.
Have Bull slam that baby home the exact same way, have the hoop cave in and shatter in the exact same way, but also have Bull land on a bed of thumbtacks for good measure. Much like Vince McMahon eventually had to kill off Doink the Clown and "kid-friendly" characters in WWE, so too must the Globetrotters adapt to the changing, more adult-oriented landscape.
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Replace the confetti buckets with "flash paper" fireballs, allow foreign objects, put a steel cage around the court. Forget Scooby Doo; put the animated versions of the team on South Park.
The ante must be upped for the Globetrotters to survive. Meadowlark Lemon would want it this way.
(h/t The Big Lead)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.