Tuesday, January 10, 7 p.m.
Vibrant Arena at the MARK, 1201 River Drive, Moline IL
Court-ing fans in their eagerly anticipated return to Moline, the electrifying athletes of the Harlem Globetrotters bring their “2023 World Tour" to the Vibrant Arena at the MARK on January 10, thrilling crowds with phenomenal basketball action, comic hijinks, ankle-breaking moves, jaw-dropping swag, and rim-rattling dunks in a fully-modernized amphitheater production.
Abe Saperstein founded the team in 1926, and the Harlem Globetrotters played their first road game in Hinckley, Illinois, on January 7, 1927. Defeating the Chicago Bruins in 1940, the Globetrotters won their first World Basketball Championship, and in 1948 and 1949, the team stunned the world by twice defeating the World Champion Minneapolis Lakers. Socially influential superstars who quickly became recognized as the world’s best basketball team, the Harlem Globetrotters' win over the Lakers accelerated the integration of the NBA, as Globetrotter Nathaniel “Sweetwater” Clifton became the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract, joining the famed New York Knicks in 1950. The Globetrotters also embarked on their first-ever international tour in 1950, played before their largest crowd ever – 75,000 – at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium in 1951 and finished the decade with their first-ever trip to the Soviet Union in 1959. Wilt Chamberlain was part of the historic Soviet Union tour, as the Hall of Famer played a full season with the Globetrotters in 1958-59, and after starting his NBA career, he still played parts of several other seasons with the Globetrotters, joining the team when he could between NBA seasons.
The Globetrotters went on to enjoy immense popularity in the 1970s and '80s. The Harlem Globetrotters cartoon show on CBS earned some of the highest ratings in the history of Saturday-morning television, the team also had their own live-action Saturday morning variety show, The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine, and the players appeared numerous times on ABC's beloved Wide World of Sports. To date, the basketball legends have played more than 26,000 exhibition games and entertained more than 148 million fans in 124 countries and territories, introducing many to the sport of basketball for the very first time.
With the team owned by Herschend Family Entertainment, the Harlem Globetrotters' signature song is Brother Bones' whistled version of "Sweet Georgia Brown," and their mascot is an anthropomorphized globe named "Globie." And while parts of a modern exhibition game are pre-planned, the games themselves are not fixed. While their opponents do not interfere with the Globetrotters' hijinks while on defense, they play a serious game when in possession of the ball, and about 20 to 30 percent of a game is "real." This once led to an infamous defeat at the hands of the Washington Generals in 1971, to the distress of the watching crowd, after the Globetrotters lost track of a big lead with their tricks and the Generals hit a game-winning buzzer-beater.
The Harlem Globetrotters bring their “2023 World Tour” to Moline on January 10, and general admission to the 7 p.m. game is $28-8, with courtside seats available for $103 and VIP Bench Admission for $300. For tickets, call (800)745-3000 and visit VibrantArena.com.