Falling over the dark, startled by the lack of an adequate buffer between one location and another, an already underway spotlight array highlights the Harlem Globetrotters with introductions that sound as if their names are familiar and known throughout the stadium. Even if they mightn't be, they quickly start to work the crowd into their act with a few launching basketballs into the stands. Each return garners a semi-patronising applause from Paul "Showtime" Gaffney. Acrobatic handling starts the moment any one of them touches the basketballs. Beyond which, the Globetrotters themselves are a well orchestrated outfit that sees the short fry referee, announcer and the New York Nationals, opposition for the night, mixed seamlessly in the entertainment. One big happy family.
Most, if not all, of the act is taken by Showtime Gaffney as he steals not only the show but balls, shoes and a purse. When not on Gaffney, a slam dunking, and hugging and swinging, duo of Curly "Boo" Jackson and Antwan Jackson live pretty much around the rim of either ring, taking to extremes the sheer capabilities of the system. Neat, energetic and just all out fun, the spectacle pays no mind to whatever rules or regulations exist. Feet and legs touch the ball, steps are taken with a liberal dose of extension, the referee is harassed to a cackling degree, delays of game penalties non-existent... it goes on and does in the head of anyone looking to follow the Globetrotters on the basic fundamentals.
A chop-chop-chop routine followed by one tremendous—actually they all are—slam dunk takes each quarter out, not that any one is really paying attention to what happens on court. Play bleeds all over the stadium with the court outline unable to contain the international visitors. The Globetrotter opera continually brings in spectators with walk on roles and parts beyond mere fuzzy faced extras. In the world of The Harlem Globetrotters, time is irrelevant, inconsequential and inconsistent. Not even the massive scoreboard dangling overhead correctly notes the ticking minutes and/or seconds. They win either way. Drilling down the final minutes they dance alongside Globie to close out the match as the New York Nationals sneak away. Tonight, Harlem Globetrotters off on a crowd high with 69 against 47 from the Nationals.
No sooner do the Globetrotters and the Nationals step out of the main do the local teams of Sydney Kings and West Sydney Razorbacks run on, catching big on the largest crowd ever to watch an NBL event in five years, some 14,805 bodies in the red seats with amputated armrests.
Razorback's Sam Mackinnon opens the night to see Kings's Mark Sanford quickly answering back. The carnage begins here as the Kings are scrambling to keep up with the charging Razorbacks who pretty much feel right at home here in the Superdome out west. 32 for the ugg boots, 17 to the suedes.
Jack the Razorback is quite possibly of Greek nationality. Speculation and racial alignment here as he kicks to his zorba dance along the sidelines. The height of which is rather impressive, well past the neckline and shooting for the space above the snout. None of the kids around the arena think much of Jack and summarily pound him with the Integral Energy bats every chance they get. One teen manages to land a solid thwack right at the mouth, Jack latches on to a bald security guard (to press charges?) who then promptly follows suit. Vicious home crowd support for the mascot.
Returning for the second act, pantomime is in full gear. BJ Carter runs clear down the court for the easy lay up, totally unaware of Mackinnon all over his back. "Oh no!" shout the Kings fans as Carter takes off only to have the ball tapped out of his hands. The agony continues as the Razorbacks's Nick Horvath and Scott McGregor join in on the merriweather hammering. Kings are fighting back, but only just, and walk out on half time behind, 46 to 48.
The third quarter sees three mini-basketballs flying down dangerously from the stands. Narrowly missing the players on court and a few sitting in the loose seats behind the board, the action itself continues without missing a beat. One in which a few more showy turns of the floor are demonstrated by the Razorbacks and the Kings are up quick to the free throw line with the Pigs already over their limit of fouls with half a period remaining. Sanford seems to be keeping up with the foul count as just one more will see him viral. The margin looks painful, 62 up at the Pig's 73.
Geoffrey, the Toys R Us giraffe, drunk and off his head, stammers around the sidelines making sure to stay at least a metre away from the hands of any kid. Watching in the tunnels, the Globetrotters fend off wave after wave of over hanging kids looking to get some autographs. One annoying brat is looking for a marker pen and asking everybody around him, disappointed when nobody fronts up. A couple of other kids, blocking the view of those down the front, are peeled off the rails, the game is still under way.
Kings disappointingly down and out with the Razorbacks equalising this year's rivalry, 93 to 76.
Reviewed on Saturday, 27 November 2004