In their 85 years of existence, the Harlem Globetrotters’ travels have taken them all over the world, into solving mysteries with the Scooby Doo gang and even stranded on Gilligan’s Island.
Between beating the snot out of the Washington Generals a few gazillion times and launching Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain’s career, the team has been the heart and soul of exhibition basketball since its inception almost a century ago. Here, Hot Shot Branch, a 6’ 4” guard in his eighth season out of Baylor (7th leading scorer in school history), talks about carrying such a vaunted mantle, meeting royalty and the fabled 4-point shot.
French Davis: How did your path lead to the Globetrotters?
Hot Shot Branch: (After college), I spent years playing for different leagues, even in Europe and South America. Then the Globetrotters saw me playing in Houston, Texas, and told me about the tryouts. There were 75 guys there and I was one of three chosen out of those tryouts.
FD: What’s an average practice like? Walk us through one.
HSB: We work on a lot of ball handling, different drills, plays and tricks. The important thing is that everyone gets time to practice, so even the young guys are prepared if they have to go in come game time. Fans expect a specific type of game play, so we have to make sure that no matter what happens, like if someone was to get injured or something, they still get the full Globetrotters experience.
?FD: You guys have competed seriously on and off over the years, between ?“exhibitions games.” How does your preparation differ between the two?
HSB: It’s really all the same. Even with the exhibition games, it’s still a game. It’s still competing. We gotta show them that we are the best, no matter what game we are playing. Gotta give the fans something to cheer about.
FD: How much of a role does 85 years of tradition play in your daily Globetrotter life? Is it weird knowing you’re playing for the same team that Wilt The Stilt once played on?
HSB: It is such a big honor for me. I think to myself about who has played on this team and what they’ve done over the past 85 years for basketball and for African Americans in the sport, and it’s just an honor to be a part of it. Like with the Globetrotters, fans don’t come for a name. They come for the team and who and what the whole team is. So to be a part of that team and that tradition is humbling. In all 85 years, there have only been some 600 players so it’s like joining an elite family.
FD: Do any of the old timers come by and provide a little mentorship or anything? What’s that like?
HSB: Oh yeah, in every city we go to. If former players are there, they’ll come in and share some of their time. They’ll talk about the obstacles and boundaries that they had to face. It’s not as challenging for us now, I mean we have guys that went through the depression and the civil rights movement. We appreciate them so much.
FD: How do you like Broomfield? Does the altitude bother you? ?
HSB: You can feel it for the first few minutes, but once you hear those fans cheering and screaming, you forget all that and it’s game on. As long as the fans have enough air to cheer for us, we’ll do great.