Tricks are now a part of the game for Globetrotter Dizzy Grant
Most people don't associate theatrics with the game of basketball, unless, of course, the Harlem Globetrotters are part of the equation. Unlike most sports, the final score is tends to take a backseat to the “did-he-really-just-do-that?” signature moves that have captivated audiences for more than 85 years.
As a wide-eyed 7-year-old, Dizzy Grant first got his taste of the team while watching them play a game in Rochester, N.Y. Much to the dismay of his mother, an inspiration to mimic the moves he was so captivated by resulted in more than one broken lampshade in the house, although both of his parents never wavered in their support of their son's new-found passion. Becoming a professional basketball player became high on his priority list, and his never-say-never attitude became the tipping point that silenced the nay-sayers and kept him on track towards achieving his dream.
Soon after, a scout for the Globetrotters came knocking — offering Dizzy the chance to audition for a spot on the team. Needless to say, he shot, he scored, and soon found himself wearing the signature red, white, and blue for fans of all ages in countries all over the world.
Question: You first saw the Globetrotters play when you were 7 years old — what kind of impression did they leave on you?
Answer: It was amazing! I was in Rochester, N.Y., and I remember being in awe … sitting on the edge of my seat. I have never seen anything like that before. My parents bought me a basketball at the game and, of course, I started practicing all over the house. My mom didn't like that too much.
Q: Many people told you that you weren't good enough to play basketball — how did you use that to motivate you rather than to let it hold you back?
A: My parents always instilled in me to work hard no matter what anybody says. I wouldn't listen to (when people) said, ‘You'll never achieve your dreams of playing basketball.' I knew that, deep down in my heart, if I continued to work hard that good things happen to good people. I'm very blessed. I try to tell kids that my mom used to say, “Aim at the stars — the worst thing is that you'll land on the moon.” Anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
Q: How did the Globetrotters find out about you?
A: We have scouts on our team. Coming up out of college, I got on a team called the New York Nationals and the owner of the team asked if I wanted to try out. And who doesn't want to try out for the Harlem Globetrotters?
Q: What's the tryout process like?
A: We play a lot of competitive basketball and scrimmages, and once you get on the team, you learn the signature moves. That's what we are — great basketball players who know how to entertain.
Q: Besides playing in countries all over the world, the team went on a soldout tour of the Soviet Union during the Cold War in 1959. What is it about the Globetrotters that breaks down cultural and societal barriers?
A: The biggest thing is that laughter is a universal language — it doesn't matter who you are or where you were from. Everyone laughs. The Harlem Globetrotters represent that fun — it's always fun to see a basketball player playing a trick on another one. That humor, that good nature, is universal.
Q: When it comes to those signature moves, is it something that comes naturally for you?
A: It definitely didn't come naturally. Now, it's second nature, but when I first joined, I couldn't spin the ball on my finger! I knocked over a lot of lamps in my day.
Q: When young kids see the Globetrotters play, what do you hope they leave with?
A: Memories. Everyone has a Globetrotters memory, and now those fathers are taking their kids or their grandkids. The legacy keeps continuing. So, we're creating memories. There aren't too many jobs that people have the opportunity to have a positive impact in two hours. Two hours of entertainment — they'll never forget seeing the Harlem Globetrotters. It's those lifelong memories we're creating (that are) so special for these children. <