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Getting a Bounce

Harlem Globetrotters, back on the rise.

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Knicks’ inconsistent season getting you down? There’s one basketball team that could teach our homeboys a thing or two about winning. When they hit Madison Square Garden’s hardwood on February 16, the kitschy Harlem Globetrotters will show off the stuff that’s given them 22,163 wins and 345 losses in their 81-year history. Granted, they’re not part of any league, but their regular opponents, the New York Nationals, can’t seem to best them in the paint, or anywhere else. Both sides swear the game is real—never mind what the fans say. “We can do things with a basketball that the NBA guys can’t do,” boasts Eugene “Killer” Edgerson, the six-foot-seven forward with the huge Afro. “A lot of people call it tricks, but we’re not magicians.” Both Edgerson and point guard Herbert Evans admit that when they came aboard the franchise, they could barely spin the ball on a fingertip. Team owner (and former player) Mannie Jackson says he makes sure the new guys can play when he plucks them from the college circuit—then puts them through boot camp, where they spend hours a day learning the shtick. (Evans says it took him three weeks and a bunch of broken knickknacks at home to get the across-the-shoulder roll down pat.) Although the crowd is largely of a certain age—often the seventies generation of fans, now bringing their own kids—Shawn Bryant, president of the company, is hoping to change that. He says the company expects to revive the old TV cartoon series about the team, and a recent financial infusion from Roy Disney’s investment firm has led to the development of a Broadway show and a movie. Cue the whistling theme music.

2/16 at 7 p.m.; Madison Square Garden, 32nd St. and Seventh Ave.; 212-307-7171 or harlem­globe­trotters.com; $15–$200.


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