Imagine a ball game amalgam blending together wrestling, clown and synchronised swimming. Last night it was on show at the Odyssey Arena.
A freebie junket!
bmi occasionally run events for gold card holders. Previously they’ve taken frequent flyers to Castleward Opera, sit down dinners, Salsa dancing. But this year they were overwhelmed by the response to their invitation to a night at the Odyssey with tasty tapas in the first floor La Tasca before heading down to see the game.
(Having been a gold card holder for about five years, it was the first time they’d ever invited me to anything other than to sit comfortably on their bus between Belfast and Heathrow.)
The Harlem Globetrotters were playing the New York Nationals (though they’re a stooge team and pretty inconsequential, spending lots of time running with their arms pointing down to the ground in case they’d interfere with where the ball is meant to be heading). The Globetrotters won. But no one was keeping score, or watching the clock too closely. In fact, no one was overly worried about making sure there was enough dribbling between steps.
Young kids loved it. Lots of local primary school-aged basketball teams were there, dressed up in their kits. A young player, David, amazed the crowd with basket after basket during his one minute of fame during half time. After an unsettled start when they didn’t look like they knew where to stand or what to do when the players came on
stage court (first night blues), the Pulse Cheerleaders from Essex performed their two dance routines with energy.
The real highlight of the night was the Big G, the Harlem Globetrotters’ mascot. (Check out the preview clip to see what he can get up to, though discard the more athletic basketball stunts which aren’t part of the UK tour.) His movements were funny, and his upside down bouncing a high spot of the night.
At the start I mentioning clowns. Much of the humour of the night is playground stuff—probably why it appeals to kids so much. Lots of faux arguing with the referee. Playing while carrying an audience member’s handbag, effeminate movements, mincing across the court, players asserting that “I’m a big man” (as opposed to a handbag-carrying big man) all felt inappropriate and didn’t get a great response from much of the Belfast crowd. Doubt they’ll get any warmer a reception in Glasgow tonight.
But as a freebie, it was a good night out. In comparission with a real NBA match, the atmosphere was lacking (the crowd never stood and cheered despite repeated attempts by the organisers to whip up enthusiasm), the lighting was poorer and you missed the big screens for action replays and close-ups.