Photo: Amanda Hertel
The Globetrotters entertain thousands of fans on Sunday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
DULUTH - For 86 years, the Harlem Globetrotters have electrified audiences around the globe and Sunday was no different as the team made a stop at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
The Globetrotters played before and entertained thousands of fans in what was dubbed the World Championship Game against the International Elite. A loss meant the Globetrotters would forfeit their 2013 tour, with the Elite taking their place instead.
Although the Elite kept it close throughout the game, the Globetrotters used the support from the fans to will their way to a victory, 100-94.
"This is a great atmosphere," said Hale Spiegelberg of Gainesville. "I brought my two granddaughters out because they enjoy this."
For his granddaughters, Kendall and Kristina Ashe, seeing the Globetrotters play in person had a special meaning because their great-grandfather played for the Washington Generals in the 1930s, a team that has played the Globetrotters tens of thousands of times over the 86-year history of the team.
Kendall said she wished she could dribble like the players, especially Fatima "TNT" Maddox.
"(Having TNT on the team) definitely encourages them and shows them they can be anything they want to be," Spiegelberg said. "They know, though, that just like in anything else, it takes a lot of hard work."
As spectators took to their seats before the teams came out, the atmosphere was alive as the crowd was entertained by the Globetrotter's mascot, "Globie," as well as some other performers.
Then, out came the Globetrotters and the famous tune of "Sweet Georgia Brown," wowing the crowd as they circled up to show off their ball-handling skills. As if that wasn't enough, some of the players came out with too much energy, having to "get down" before the game started.
Once the game started, the atmosphere didn't change as the fans responded to every play that was made, including booing the officials when a call went against the Globetrotters.
To go along with the weave, made famous by the Globetrotters just above the 3-point line, the team showed their superior ball-handling skills and dunked the ball on most trips down the court, much to the delight of fans.
"It's really funny," said Lawrenceville nine-year old Sam Beagle, who was attending his second Globetrotter's game. "I really liked it when they put the ball around their head."
As if the game itself wasn't a delight to many of the fans, most were entertained by the sideshow that went on, as Globetrotter showman Nathaniel "Big Easy" Lofton continually found ways to get into trouble.
From taking a woman's purse to constantly messing with opponents and officials to throwing water at fans in the stands, Big Easy spent some time in the penalty box for his transgressions.
One of the Elite players did however get revenge on Big Easy, pulling down his pants to reveal boxers with the face of Animal from the Muppets, although Big Easy was too worried about dancing and singing to notice until a teammates stopped him to show what he was showing the crowd.
As the fourth quarter began, the Globetrotters had a slight lead, but it never got too serious as an impromptu "YMCA" dance came during a timeout, keeping the fans going during the tight game.
Prior to the final buzzer sounding, the Globetrotters provided one last weave and electric dunk to put a cap on the game, getting a standing ovation from the crowd for their performance.