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Fans set the tone, and rules, for annual Harlem Globetrotters game

| Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Dizzy Grant Harlem Globetrotters

When the iconic Harlem Globetrotters kick off their “Fans Rule” Tour in Pittsburgh, a game held here annually on the day after Christmas, the fans, indeed, can dictate some of the game's dynamics, says guard Dizzy Grant, known for his comical impersonations of other basketball players.

Fans at the Dec. 26 game at Consol Energy Center will vote on quirky new rules to be used in the game. Prior to the game, fans can vote on Facebook and other social media and select a new game rule.

Fans can pick the Hot Hand Jersey rule, where a player wearing a special jersey gets double points when he scores; or Make or Miss, where the quarter starts with two players on each team. When someone scores, another player joins the team, and when they miss, a teammate must leave the court; or even Trick Shot Challenge, where teams challenge each other to make trick shots — the team that makes the shot gets five points; if the players miss, the other team gets five points.

“We give fans an opportunity to vote on different rules in the game to add excitement to the game,” says Grant, 31.

When he isn't trotting around the globe, Grant lives in Fishers, Ind. “It's just a new thing we've done this year to give our fans another opportunity to” enjoy the Globetrotter experience.

Globetrotters each have nicknames, and Grant — in his eighth season with the team — got his “Dizzy” name from his teammates, who said they felt dizzy after guarding him, because his dribbling and other movements had them going in circles.

Grant, who graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2005, dreamed of playing professional basketball. During a tryout to play overseas, Grant met a Globetrotter talent scout and found a better fit than the NBA would have been, he says. Grant gets to combine his comedian streak and engaging personality with athletics.

“That's what makes (Globetrotters) so special,” he says. “We're great basketball players, but we have the ability to entertain. We look for guys who can play basketball at a high level and guys who have that outgoing personality it takes to be a Harlem Globetrotter.”

Part of the Globetrotters' off-court role is acting as “Ambassadors of Goodwill” by participating in community-service projects. About a week ahead of time, a Globetrotter visits the city where the team will play. They do things like the “Smile Patrol” with patients in hospitals, and the “ABCs of Bullying Prevention” in schools, which promotes the virtues of action, bravery and compassion, Grant says.

The North American Tour kicks off Dec. 26 in Pittsburgh and lasts through April. Then, players will go overseas to places like Europe, Australia, China and New Zealand.

“Come on out and have a great way to celebrate the holidays with the Harlem Globetrotters,” Grant says.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com.

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