The Harlem Globetrotters are from another era, a throwback to the original days of basketball, of barnstorming teams like the Original Celtics and the New York Rens. The show even feels old: The Globetrotters’ jokes are almost vaudevillian — some of them could have been ended with a giant hook pulling them off the court. It’s carnival entertainment — the circus combined with professional wrestling.
C’mon, kids! Abe Saperstein’s globe trottin’ basketball team has come into town! Only now Abe Saperstein is Herschend Family Entertainment, who acquired Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc. from Shamrock Capital Advisors in October. Herschend also owns the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, Ride the Ducks, and Dollywood.
The Globetrotters make an annual pilgrimage to Philadelphia in early March every year, hitting the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia twice yesterday. (Another Globetrotter squad was in Estero, Florida, at an arena that usually hosts the Florida Everblades — get it?) To get attention in a crowded entertainment market, the Globetrotters pull a lot of stunts: The team drafted Usain Bolt, a player ran into Dave Matthews, and two Globetrotters competed on the Amazing Race. In 2009, the team actually played on the roof of the Spectrum; the next year two players did tricks on the top of the Comcast Center.