losing to globetrotters
Last week I did a fun story for Las Vegas Weekly about the team that travels the country losing to the Globetrotters. You can read the whole story on LasVegasWeekly.com, but here's the first part:
The Harlem Globetrotters are cocky bastards. They’re not whimsical, they’re not inspirational, and they’re certainly not American heroes. They’re sadistic bullies who’ll do whatever it takes to win, no matter how cruel or degrading.
I could be biased. See, last week the Globetrotters played the Washington Generals at the Orleans Arena, and I had money riding on the Generals. Like Krusty the Clown, who lost his life savings betting on the Generals, I figured the team was due.
You’d think placing a bet on a basketball team that’s three-and-a-half decades into a 10,000-game losing streak would be easy, but none of the sports books in town would take my bet. According to the manager of the Venetian sports book, “Las Vegas casinos only take bets on legitimate sporting competitions, not exhibition events. You can’t bet on the all-star game, and you can’t bet on American Idol.”
“But can’t you make an exception for the Generals? They haven’t won since 1971.”
“Call up an offshore sports book and place a bet with them,” he suggested.
I called my dad instead. He’s a lifelong Globetrotters fan, and was willing to take my bet. We agreed that I’d give him $1 if the Globetrotters won and he’d give me $1,000 if the Generals did.
Before the game, I told Generals team captain Ben Augustine (6’6”, 210 lbs.) about my bet.
“I’ll try my best out there,” he assured me, “but I have to tell you, I’ve been playing with the Generals for four years and haven’t won yet, so I can’t make you any promises.”
“But you’ll try?”
“Of course I’ll try. I always try. Everyone on the team does. Every time we take the court, we do our best to win.”
“But you never have.”
“Not yet—no. But to me, it’s not about winning or losing; it’s about how you play the game. Energy, efforts, hustle, winning loose balls, crashing the boards—that’s what’s most important to me.”
I took my seat at the press table, and the announcer introduced the Washington Generals starting lineup. Children booed. The jeers provoked the Washington Generals coach into grabbing the microphone from the announcer and giving this speech:
“I hope you kids didn’t come here today expecting to see the Globetrotters win, because if you did, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Today the Washington Generals are going to make history, right here in Las Vegas—the armpit of America.”
I know that sounds bad, but you have to remember where this guy is coming from. He’s been coaching the Generals for years and has yet to win a game. He’s frustrated with the league, and probably with himself. The Las Vegas swipe was textbook Freudian projection, and he shouldn’t be blamed for it.
The announcer cued up “Sweet Georgia Brown” and introduced the Globetrotters, who ran onto the court and into their trademark circle formation. In a desperate, transparent plea for attention, the Trotters passed basketballs behind their backs, rolled them along their arms and spun them on their heads.