Harlem Globetrotter 'Bull' blocks the opposing team's basket during Saturday's exhibition game at North Medford High School. - Denise Baratta

Globetrotters put on a show

When she's not heaving up eye-popping 3-point attempts, sliding across basketball courts while dribbling and signing autographs for droves of smiling children, Fatima Maddox loves to draw and paint.

Understandably, she's had to funnel most of her creativity into her basketball career lately.

The Harlem Globetrotter rookie, who performed at North Medford High on Saturday, is the ninth female player in team history and the first since 1993.

Known as TNT for her explosiveness, the Colorado Springs, Colo., native wowed spectators with her exquisite ballhandling for the famous squad of basketball magicians, which made Medford the final stop on its North American tour.

The 5-foot-6 Maddox — who played collegiately at Temple under Dawn Staley — tried out for the Globetrotters last year in Philadelphia after competing professionally in Sweden.

"A month later they ended up offering me a contract and I couldn't say yes fast enough," she said. "It's been an honor just to come out here and put on the red, white and blue every day. Essentially, I get to represent women and hopefully inspire someone. But overall, it's just fun to carry on this tradition."

The job has included lots of traveling and little time to catch one's breath. Maddox's canvas has remained blank for some time now, but she and her teammates do occasionally find other ways to take a (short) break from ball.

"We will go to the mall, catch a movie or if we are really lucky go bowling," she said. "There's not much room outside of playing and practicing."

On Saturday, Maddox shined as playmaker, slinging stunning passes and even sliding between a teammate's long legs.

That said, her shot was off, and she knew it.

Maddox missed all of her 4-point attempts, which could be taken at one of two designated areas about 35 feet from the basket on each half of the court (they are about 12 feet longer than an NBA 3-point attempt). And her longer trick shots weren't dropping.

"That kind of stung," she said.

Despite all that, Maddox was still smiling afterward as a long line of fans held out photographs, jerseys and basketballs for her to inscribe her name upon.

One woman told Maddox, who is in her late 20s, that she is beautiful before taking her picture. Then a child had her sign a skateboard.

"I think skateboarding is so cool," Maddox said.

Maddox walked away impressed with the packed gym at North.

"The crowd was great," she said. "It's always nice to play in these smaller gyms because it is more intimate and the fans get to hear every little thing and we get to goof around with them."

Globetrotters head coach Barry Hardy, a former BYU-Hawaii star who was known as "High Rise" during his Harlem playing days, praised TNT.

"The guys treat her like any other member of the team," he said. "Actually, they treat her even better because she is their little sister."

Local basketball buffs like Marcus Loghry, an 11-year-old from Grants Pass, were treated to dazzling dunks and daring passes. There were also dozens of drop-to-the-floor-laughing moments.

"I thought it was a really good game," he said. "I really liked Bull (one of the players). He was my favorite. He could do the flips."

The comedy did, however, leave some feeling a little drenched.

Before the famous bucket of confetti was tossed, the Globetrotters brought out a bucket that contained cups of water. With the containers of liquid in hand, veteran showman Big Easy Lofton and a teammate chased after each other precariously close to spectators.

Loghry was one of several who ended up wet.

"I thought they were probably gonna splash us," he said.

Oh, and there was one more thing to note about this fun-filled contest — the Globetrotters prevailed, 85-82, over a bunch of hardwood losers known as the International Elite.

Winning is an art the Globetrotters have perfected.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email

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