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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Harlem Globetrotters head to McKale Center on Friday for first time in four years

Members+of+the+Harlem+Globetrotters+during+a+game+at+the+Qatar+Womens+Sport+Committee+Indoor+Hall+in+November+2011.
Vinod Divakaran (CC BY 2.0)
Members of the Harlem Globetrotters during a game at the Qatar Women’s Sport Committee Indoor Hall in November 2011.

At the age of 5, Anthony Blakes attended his first-ever Harlem Globetrotters game with his father in the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. Little did he know that a few decades later, he would take the court himself as a Globetrotter now known as Buckets Blakes on the team’s 90th celebratory tour.

“They call me Buckets because I can score a lot of buckets in a hurry,” Blakes said.

The 6-foot-2 guard spent 14 seasons with the Globetrotters after playing collegiate basketball at the University of Wyoming.

“It’s the best job in the world and one of the best games in the world,” Blakes said. “To be a Harlem Globetrotter is by far the best basketball life experience I’ve ever had. You get to travel all over the world and make people laugh and smile, despite language barriers.”

Blakes and his teammates will be playing in McKale Center in May for the first time in four years. Blakes, who is originally from Phoenix, knows the history of Arizona men’s basketball quite well, especially growing up with Mike Bibby.

“The [UA] is synonymous with the game of basketball,” Blakes said. “You have Steve Kerr out there. You have Joseph Blair, Bibby, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Terry, Richard Jefferson, Andre Iguodala. That’s so many players that left here and became successful.”

Blakes has interesting ties to the Wildcat program, as he trained redshirt junior Lauren Evans, a player for the Arizona women’s team. His brother was also a part of the Fiesta Bowl champion Arizona football team that topped the Miami Hurricanes in 1994.

“Actually, one of the kids that I taught basketball to is playing on the women’s basketball team,” Blakes said. “I was her trainer and helped her older brother get to four NCAA Tournaments and two Sweet Sixteens at Wisconsin.”

The Globetrotters are known for their ability to make families smile while also breaking racial ties in sports.

“To know that you are a part of the team that has touched the lives of so many people for 90 years, breaking the racial barrier in sports and bringing interest to the game of basketball all over the world,” Blakes said. “We have been making the relationships between the United States and other countries better by using basketball as a tool.”

If you scroll through the Guinness World Records, you will see Blakes’ name under most underhand shots from half court in one minute.

“To be able to look in the Guinness Book of World Records and see yourself in there,” Blakes said, “I think every kid has had the chance to look in it and see the fastest person in the world, the tallest person in the world, shortest person. … Just to be in the Guinness Book of World Records is pretty awesome within itself.”

Blakes has the opportunity to be playing in the footsteps of Globetrotter legends Fred “Curly” Neal, Meadowlark Lemon, Reece “Goose” Tatum and Wilt Chamberlain.

“It’s a great feeling to have a job that you are able to give back and make people happy,” Blakes said. “Most people who give back in the community, they usually have to wait until they get out of work. With the Globetrotters, that’s what we do every single day, everywhere we go.”

You can watch the Harlem Globetrotters and Washington Generals square off in McKale Center on Friday at 7 p.m.


Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.


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