The Harlem Globetrotters seem to be a universally loved basketball team. They’ve been around for close to a century, known for their incredible ball handling, rim-rattling dunks, trick shots, comedic antics and unequaled fan interaction.
Members of the beloved team will be in Augusta on Friday, March 23, with their game starting at 7 p.m. They’ll meet with fans and sign autographs afterward.
The Globetrotters (whose name is appropriate, being that they’ve shown off their skills in 122 countries and territories on six continents) total about 30 players, with three teams of about 10: the red unit, white unit and blue unit.
Unless you follow the Globetrotters’ roster closely, you might not realize that they welcome women on their team. One of those women is Briana “Hoops” Green, a 28-year-old from Lexington, Ky., who is just the 15th woman to ever don the red, white and blue uniform in the team’s 91-year history. (The first was Lynette Woodard, in 1985.)
Though in many areas of the sports world it’s unheard of for women to play alongside men, she said she already was used to doing that.
“It’s pretty neat; I mean, I’ve always played against guys — growing up, I was always on the co-ed team, I was always playing with my brother, playing against his friends, so that’s nothing really new to me,” she said. “But It’s pretty cool just being with the Globetrotters and you’re the only woman on a team, you definitely stand out.”
Right now, the Globetrotters have two other women playing for their units.
Hoops, who while growing up looked up to basketball stars Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant, knew from a young age that she would be playing basketball professionally. Before the Globetrotters opportunity arose, she helped her team at Lexington Catholic High School rise to a 160-14 record over four years. She led the team to two state championships and was ranked among the best players in the country, earning All-State and All-Region honors. After attending the University of Texas at El Paso, she ranked No. 11 on the school’s list for all-time wins. She went on to play professionally overseas in the Czech Republic and Spain, as well as Mexico.
Hoops loves traveling, so being on the Globetrotters is the perfect job for her.
“I have the opportunity to go to amazing, different places that maybe I never would have experienced if I wasn’t on the Globetrotters,” she said. “Just, when people see us, they immediately smile and they’ll tell us a story about the first time they went to a Globetrotters game. Or, being one of the few females on the team, they look up to me as being a role model and an inspiration to them, so it’s pretty cool to be a part of that.”
She also loves that the team does a lot of ambassador work — before she joined the team, she already spent some time coaching and mentoring youths. The Globetrotters are all about that — they have a program called “The ABCs of Bullying Prevention” where they use their status to talk to kids about how to reduce bullying in their schools.
They also spend a lot of time with fans after their games.
During the games, the Globetrotters are matched up against the Washington Generals. Even though the Globetrotters usually win (they’ve only lost a few times in their 91-year history), Hoops said the games actually are challenging, with the Generals becoming more athletic recently, and therefore they pose more of a challenge.
“Sometimes we just have an off night and we’re missing shots,” she said. “So we have to really buckle down and start making things happen, because if they get a high lead, and whether we’re doing these different tricks, different skits or whatever, we have to be able to come back and catch up. Because we don’t change the score to benefit us; we don’t add on points or anything. So we have to make sure that we start really locking in and playing defense. We have to get to the basket and score and get fouled to do all this stuff to make sure that we have a close game or that we end up winning the game.”
Hoops, who is not on the unit that will be playing in Augusta, said anyone who comes out to their games can expect to have a good time.
“Whatever issue, whatever problem, anything, you can just leave that at the door, just knowing you can leave the gym with a smile on your face,” she said. “Globetrotters are more than basketball players — we’re ambassadors of goodwill, and I just know that everyone’s gonna have a good time. It’s for everybody — family fun.”
Visit harlemglobetrotters.com to find out about more about the team and its history.
The Harlem Globetrotters
James Brown Arena
7 p.m. Friday, March 23
877-4AUGTIX or georgialinatix.com