Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Thoughts On The International Elite vs Harlem Globetrotters 1/22/12 Game In Oklahoma City.

The International Elite finally came to town to take on the Harlem Globetrotters, at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in my home town of Oklahoma City, OK.

So as you can imagine, there is no where else I was going to be that afternoon, then to cheer on the Elite as they once more chased the illusive win. I held out fools hope that with the new names and cool black uniforms their luck would change.

I went to the game with my 10 year old nephew as well as a friend and a kid who he was babysitting. All three of them were seeing a Globetrotter game for the first time; so I was happy to be introducing three people to the fun I've been having since I was a kid.

Even if they did cheer the Globetrotters, what front runners!

I knew about the Washington Generals name change, as anyone who follows this blog will tell you. But I didn't know if it was going to be the International Elite or Global Select playing in Oklahoma City until I got there.

I was happy they were playing as the Elite, I won't lie. Of course I would have been happier had they played as the Washington Generals. But that wasn't in the cards.

I'm sure the "Global Select" name will grow on m, but I like the name "International Elite" much better. Not to mention I much prefer the black and yellow to white and yellow.

I knew about the story line they are doing this tour of the "World Championship" but I thought it was a nice touch with the twist that the losing team would not be back for next years tour. We all knew that the Globetrotters were in no danger, but it was a nice twist adding some "real" stakes to the game. If that makes sense.

The Elite were also billed at the beginning as being an "undefeated team" who climbed the ranks and won a prior tournament giving them the right to play the Globetrotters for this "important championship game." They even got a cheer from the fans when this back story was explained.

It was a change from the team, who since abandoning their New York Nationals persona several years back, have been portrayed as cheating bad guys for a while now. While I am sorry the Generals name is gone, at least for now, I do like that with the new name came a persona that doesn't try to hide the fact at the end of the day these are credible ball players.

I do wonder if the "stakes" means this name change to the Elite/Select is just for this tour. Maybe that's wishful thinking, in fact it most likely is. Besides, it could mean they will be playing under new name every tour now, for all I know.

It could also be that's the reason they are playing under two different names, ergo next season Oklahoma City will see the Global Select play the Trotters. Although I don't see them going to the trouble to keep track of which persona played where. They may just assume we'll forget this twist next year. As far as most fans are concerned they wouldn't be wrong.

Either way it was a nice "story line" and the trophy they were "competing for" was a very nice and impressive one. The kid my friend brought was very impressed by it, so props to whoever designed it. I got a good picture of it with the games D.J. He was nice enough to pose with it for me as I went to take a picture before we took our seats.

This is what it's all for! - Photo by Dan Pratt
Indecently, I had to fight security when I entered for the right to take that picture. Apparently they can't tell the difference between a digital camera larger than a credit card and a camcorder. True story!

Globie and company put on a good comedy show to warm up the crowd, or I guess it was good. I wasn't exactly enthralled but the kits all loved it, including the two in my party. So who am I to argue with that?

The game got underway and it was a typical great display of basketball and comedy that both the Generals (Elite) and the Globetrotters are known for.

In fact they made a real effort to have the Elite play a bit more like "legit" contenders, in line with the storyline. As while they were made fools of like always, some of the reams such as the "ball under the shirt" one were not present, making the team look a little less prone to "looking like idiots". For lack of a better word.

It was Special K's team taking on Sam Worthen's group of Washington Generals. Now, I take nothing away from Big Easy who is a great showman and getting to see "TNT" Maddox and Jacob "Hops" Tucker in action was awesome, not to mention Scotter and Handles were on hand and both are a lot of fun to watch. Scooter is actually my favorite of the Trotters.

But I was sorry that it wasn't Special K and co. only beacause Jonte "Too Tall" Hall and Derick "Dizzy" Grant, the two current Globetrotters to have once played for the Generals, were both absent from Oklahoma City.

It was also kind of a disappointing not to see Anthony Smith playing for the Elite/Select, as he is also with the other touring squad.

But both of those are minor squabbles. Just like their counterparts on the other squad, Sam Worthen and his boys did what they do best, played great basketball while never outshining the Globetrotters.

The 4-point circle from last season returned. Us Elite fans got a small victory out of it, as it was a member of the Elite, not the Globetrotters, who scored the first 4-point shot of the game.

In fact the Elite played good the entire game, taking the lead more than once that day and missing very few baskets. The definitely forced the Trotters to earn their victory that night.

The penalty box was back also, although it was used a bit differently.

Unlike last season, apparently Sam Worthen's checks started bouncing. The Elite were sent the the penalty box more than once that night, and in fact one of the Elite was the first to go to the penalty box. (I believe it was James Vilsaint, but as many will attest the referees and announcers are apparently forbidden to call the Elite players by name. So I may be wrong.)

Although the Globetrotters usually went to the penalty box leaving themselves a man, or two, or three short there were some times where members of both teams went to the penalty box. That included the pantsing, which probably for the first time in the history of that ream, there were actual consequences. Both Big Easy and the Elite's Vilsaint were sent to the penalty box after Big Easy pantsed Vilsaint, and the Elite's retaliation.

They clearly tried to make the penalty box element look more "legit" this season, to go in line with this being a championship game with big stakes. Although I still don't get how the Trotters teasing an Elite by throwing the ball over, between the legs, and around one Elite, then tricking another Elite to catch the ball right before it goes out of bounds, got the two offending Trotters AND the two Elite players sent to the penalty box. What did they do? Apparently the "don't spread your legs too far" rule was in effect.

Most of the usual reams were there. A purse was stolen, followed by a pretty and half-embarrassed giggling girl being propositioned for a kiss for returning it, confetti was thrown, Generals lost their uniformes doing a layup (which was a big hit with my nephew), and the weave was in full effect. No Globetrotter Football, which was a shame, they must have run out of time.

There was also a nice few minutes in the beginning of the final quarter, with the game close, where the teams briefly dropped the gags and played some real basketball. Showing how good of players both teams were under the showmanship.

Tonight was not the Elite's night, with the Globetrotters winning 105-100.

But a good time was had by all including the three new Globetrotter fans I inducted that night. Now I have a whole year to work on getting them to see it is the International Elite who they should truly become the fans of.

My nephew stayed for the autographs and managed to get his brand new red, white and blue ball signed by Bull, Bones, Bingo, and Jacob "Hops" Tucker (the later of which seemed to get a kick when I told him I was a fan of his YouTube videos).

On a quick note about the Trotters. I was impressed with the rookie Trotters who I saw in action for the first time after all the hype. Hops and TNT were especially impressive, and I have a feeling fans could be seeing them torment the Generals for many years to come.

Can't wait until next year!

Better luck next time Elite!

All photos in this post were taken by me (Dan Pratt) and are available for re-use under creative commons attribution 2.0 Generic lisence.

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