It’s one of the safest bets in sports, but it would be rude for Zeus McClurkin of the Harlem Globetrotters to guarantee a victory at CenturyLink Arena.
What does he promise? More defense will be played Monday than at last weekend’s NBA All-Star game (final score: 196-173).
“I can’t tell you how many tweets I saw about, ‘The Washington Generals play more defense than that NBA All-Star game!’ ” McClurkin, 29, said, laughing during a phone interview. “I can guarantee you will see a lot more defense.”
The Globetrotters’ opponent will be the World All-Stars — basically a new version of the Generals.
“It’s a combination ... of ex-NBA, overseas players who are trying to beat us this year,” McClurkin said. “You will see a lot of defense, but at the same time you’ll see a lot more entertainment.”
Tricks, laughs and athletic showmanship are the permanent plan for the Globetrotters, now approaching a century in action. “The Ambassadors of Goodwill” transcend demographics when it comes to fun.
“We’ve been around for 90 years because we put smiles on people’s faces,” McClurkin said.
Three Globetrotters units will play 330 games in 260 cities this year, he said. There are 30 players in total: 27 men and three women.
The team has evolved with the flashier, media-saturated times. McClurkin is flying into Boise three days before the game to promote it. Meanwhile, the Globetrotters recently collaborated with percussion group Stomp on a YouTube video that has hundreds of thousands of views. Three months ago, players set seven Guinness World Records in another popular YouTube video.
The 6-foot-8 McClurkin set the mark for most slam dunks in a minute. Not bad for a kid who was cut from every team until 11th grade. He walked on at North Carolina A&T State. After that, McClurkin bounced around overseas before winding up on the Generals roster.
When McClurkin got the opportunity to try out for the Globetrotters — “I guess they got tired of me dunking on them!” — he seized the moment. “I feel like I was born to do this,” he said. “It’s crazy how I stumbled upon them.”
Growing up, McClurkin spent lots of time on the sideline spinning basketballs on his finger, he says — mostly because he wasn’t that exceptional at playing actual basketball. He was chided for lacking a killer instinct.
“All you ever do is smile and dunk, smile and dunk,” they said. “What’s up with you?”
“Today, I’m getting paid to do that,” McClurkin said. “So I tell kids everywhere to be yourself.”
7 p.m. Monday, CenturyLink Arena, 233 S. Capitol Blvd., Boise. $23-$88. Magic Pass is an additional $22 and includes spending time with the Globetrotters on the court, autographs and photos. At CenturyLinkArenaBoise.com