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Harlem Globetrotters come to McKale

Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Harlem Globetrotter Anthony Buckets Blakes feeds a  giraffe at the Reid Park Zoo on Friday, Feb. 26. Blakes signed autographs for eager fans and also threw some basketballs to a polar bear during his quick trip to the Zoo.
Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat Harlem Globetrotter Anthony “Buckets” Blakes feeds a giraffe at the Reid Park Zoo on Friday, Feb. 26. Blakes signed autographs for eager fans and also threw some basketballs to a polar bear during his quick trip to the Zoo.

The Arizona Wildcats and the Southern California Trojans are not the only basketball teams playing in McKale Center this weekend.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., the Harlem Globetrotters will provide the “”true entertainment”” for the community of Tucson and the UA campus as part of the 2010 Magical Memories Tour.

“”It’s a special event,”” said Suzy Mason, associate athletic director of Arizona Event Operations. “”We don’t do this all the time. It’s an opportunity for our fans to see an act that has world recognition. It’s something fun for Tucson.””

One player providing some of the entertainment is Globetrotter and Phoenix native Buckets Blakes who had the opportunity to play with former Arizona Wildcat Eugene Edgerson when he was a part of the Globetrotters.

“”(Eugene) told me it was awesome playing in McKale,”” Blakes said. “”A sold out crowd (every night) and living like kings as far as respect in Tucson and the country goes.””

Raised in Phoenix, Buckets’ loyalties lay elsewhere.

“”I was a fan of (ASU) actually,”” Blakes said. “”I went to a lot of Bill Frieder camps when I was in high school. I was going to go to school there, but Frieder wasn’t going to be there anymore, and I didn’t want to play for anybody else.””

Being a former fan of the Sun Devils, you would think Blakes would have some animosity about playing in McKale. But, as a true Globetrotter, that is not the case.

“”I’m happy to play in McKale Center,”” Blakes said. “”It’s a great basketball atmosphere.””

In previous years, the Tucson Convention Center has been the destination for “”America’s team”” to show off its basketball tricks when in Tucson.

“”They had scheduling difficulties with the TCC previously (which lead) to them not being able to come down there last year,”” Mason said.

Recently, the Arizona Icecats have had games and practices cancelled due to scheduling conflicts with the TCC, and, when the Harlem Globetrotters take the court in McKale Center, the TCC will be hosting Monster Jam, a three-day monster truck show which opens tonight at 7:30.

This year, the Globetrotters are looking to appeal to a more basketball-friendly environment.

“”They thought they might get a bigger crowd by playing where basketball games are usually held in Tucson,”” said Beth Megerle, director of Ticket and Donor Systems and Technology.

Currently, the Arizona Athletics department is still in the process of working out a contract with the Harlem Globetrotters for the use of McKale Center as a venue.

“”We’re still working out contract details on (the venue charge),”” Mason said. “”We’ll see how ticket sales go, and we’ll have a (contract) settled 30 to 60 days after the fact.””

Arizona will not take a percentage of the ticket sales, which range from $17 to $85. Also, student discounts will not be available, as the Arizona Athletics department did not set the prices.

For those who attend the game, entertainment will not be lacking, according to Blakes.

“”From start to finish, you’re going to see some amazing things,”” Blakes said. “”There will be a lot of crowd participation and some quality basketball.””

And for Blakes, one thing is certain: his pre-game menu.

“”It’s just a little comfort thing,”” Blakes said. “”I grew up that way. No matter how much I’ve eaten that day or have not eaten, I have to have a bowl of cereal before I go to bed at night. It helps me sleep.””

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