There’s another kind of March Madness basketball coming to town Saturday when the Harlem Globetrotters bring their act to UNC Charlotte’s Halton Arena for two shows.
The scheduled North Carolina stops represent a homecoming of sorts for Globetrotters rookie Julian “Zeus” McClurkin, who was a forward for North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro from 2007 to 2009.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, McClurkin is one of the few Globetrotters to have successfully made the transition from their rival, the Washington Generals, to “every city’s hometown team,” the Globetrotters.
“I played one season with the Generals after I left college, and all I could think about was how to get on with the Globetrotters,” McClurkin, 28, said in Charlotte earlier this month on a pre-game promotional tour. “To play for a team with such a rich history – one that was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame – is fulfilling a dream.”
McClurkin earned the nickname “Zeus” because of the thunderous sounds made when he dunks the ball. “They also couldn’t fit ‘Mr. Incredible’ on the back of my jersey,” said McClurkin, grinning.
McClurkin is a “finisher” with the Globetrotters, a role that sees him spending most of his court time above the rim, finishing off passes from teammates with slam-dunks.
“I’ve got the best job in the world,” said McClurkin, who promised confetti buckets, pants drops and plenty of long-distance trick shots – all Globetrotters’ hallmarks – for the Charlotte games. “I love making people smile and bringing joy into their lives. Everyone has a Globetrotter story from the past, and now I get to create new memories.”
McClurkin said he’s excited to be back in North Carolina.
“If I was going to live anywhere other than my current home in Columbus, it would be here,” said McClurkin. “The weather, the people and the speed here are much to my liking.”
Dubbed the “Washington Generals’ Revenge Tour,” the Globetrotters’ familiar adversary promises a more competitive season than years past. The last time they beat the Globetrotters was in 1971.
McClurkin went out on a limb and all but guaranteed the outcome for Saturday’s games. “They’re not going to beat us on my watch,” he said. “It’s not going happen.”
The clown princes (and princesses) of hoops – known for their athletic, theatric and comedic performances – have played tens of thousands of games in more than 120 countries during the team’s 89 years of existence.
WHEN: 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Halton Arena, UNC Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd.
DETAILS: 704-687-4949; www.harlemglobetrotters.com.