MASON CITY — Stomp-stomp clap. Stomp-stomp clap. The beat to “We are the Champions” reverberated through Mohawk Gym as the Harlem Globetrotters got ready to pull another prank on the hapless Washington Generals. Story by Joe Buttweiler. With video and photo gallery.|MASON CITY — Stomp-stomp clap. Stomp-stomp clap. The beat to “We are the Champions” reverberated through Mohawk Gym as the Harlem Globetrotters got ready to pull another prank on the hapless Washington Generals.
Dizzy Grant and Ant Atkinson put on black ski masks and crept up on an unsuspecting General at the free-throw line.
Then, whoosh! Down came his shorts, pulled off by Dizzy, revealing colorful undershorts to the delight of hundreds of laughing fans.
Back at ya, Dizzy! Then he got stripped of his shorts while he wasn’t looking. More laughs. More fun.
Then more amazing, high-flying basketball as the Globetrotters entertained about 1,200 enthusiastic fans Thursday night in Mason City.
There were more ally-oops, no-look passes and amazing ball-handling tricks than you can imagine, as well as the usual stable of time-tested pranks and audience-participation dances, competitions and trickery.
“I’ve never seen so many people laughing and clapping and getting along,” said Jessica Kitner, Mason City, who attended with her mom and dad and a family friend. “This is great family entertainment.”
Everyone seemed to agree.
From the moment the Globetrotters hit the court, running through a cloud of smoke as music blared, until the last autograph had been signed well after the game ended, kids of all ages were enthralled with the show.
The Globetrotters’ signature pre-game circle of ball-handling tricks, performed with “Sweet Georgia Brown” playing loud and proud, was a show unto its own. The red-white-and-blue basketballs spinning on fingers, rolling around heads, bopping of backs and landing on necks was mesmerizing.
And the game-time shooting … Priceless.
Celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, the team has instituted a four-point shot. Baskets made by shooting from one of the marked circles near half court counted as four points. Ant hit two in a row at the end of the first quarter.
In the second, Mark Dorenkamp, KGLO farm reporter, got in the game. He won the opportunity to play with the Generals by winning a game of H-O-R-S-E among KGLO staff. In his brief appearance Thursday night he was close on his four-point try, but did sink a three and scored on a lay-up, getting more applause than most of the Generals.
Halftime entertainment was provided by the Mark and Christa Hanson family of Kawahna, with all seven of them on unicycles.
It was a fitting show for a game where, as usual, the Globetrotters ran circles around the competition. They scored big with their fans on a football play, with Dizzy passing to Airport Greenup in the east end zone, and then replaying the action in reverse.
Principal T.J. Jumper got to dance center-court to “Y.M.C.A.,” drawing raves for his moves. Or were they for the little kids who were also invited out to dance?
Appearances by Globie and Big G stoked the crowd. So did bowling by Globie, musical chairs, break dancers, the taunting from the Generals coach, the crowd-pleasing bucket-of water prank, confetti surprises, balloon ball and ball-on-a-string pranks, and Ant hanging Spiderman-like from the rim a couple times.
As it was two years ago, the event was a fundraiser for the North Iowa Youth Center. Director Regan Banks said about 1,200 tickets were sold, which was about half as many as two years ago. The price was $4 more per seat this time, but the Globetrotters were providing more money back to the club this time, about $5,000, Banks said.
Beyond that, it was all about providing some great family entertainment for North Iowans, he said.
View photos: Harlem Globetrotters photo gallery
See some highlights of the performance: