Of all the people crammed into the North Medford High School gymnasium Monday night — and it was a packed house — Shani Hulst of Grants Pass would have to be considered the one most likely to leave without a smile on her face.
That’s because it was Hulst’s son who was drilled in the head by an errant water cooler thrown by one of the Harlem Globetrotters during one of their many in-game stunts.
But no, even Hulst enjoyed herself. And the boy came out ahead.
“Totally fine,” Hulst said. “He’s thrilled — are you kidding? They took him down there, they got him a jersey, they gave him front row seats for him and all his friends to go down there. They were really nice.”
The Hulsts weren’t the only audience members to become unwitting participants in the team’s shenanigans, all of which culminated with a predictable victory over the hapless Washington Generals.
Also taking center stage at various breaks in the action were a trio of volunteers duped into a surprise dance-off, a young boy who throttled one of the Globetrotters, Hammer, in a gunny sack race and Megan Bogart, the ballet director of Turning Point Dance Company in Medford, whose purse was “stolen” and eventually returned, but not before another dance exhibition — by Bogart, who proved to be a good sport and a better dancer.
“That was fun,” she said. “I had no idea. I’ve been in front of an audience before but it’s a little more high-pressure when you’re like 4-(foot)-3 and everybody else is this big. I didn’t know what was happening so I had to go along with it.”
The show began with a friendly game of musical chairs featuring Globetrotters mascot, Globie, against four youngsters from the audience. Once it got down to the final two, Globie decided to increase his chances by stealing the chair and running off into the crowd (Globie later apologized).
The game was preceded by elaborate player introductions which included a dramatic entrance by Cager, billed as the Generals’ ultimate weapon — “a mountain of a man measuring more than 7-feet tall and weighing well over 300 pounds.”
The Globetrotters were next, running out a stacked roster with names like Zeus, Jet, Lights Out (he was), Hammer and Mighty, the 17th female player to join the Globetrotters in the team’s 92-year history, according to the team’s website, and the one with arguably the most catchy moniker: blonde blaze of ballistic ball-handling.”
The game itself was one alley-oop dunk after another, with several 3-point and even 4-point bombs thrown in. No-look passes outnumbered looked ones, behind-the-back passes and dribbles were in abundance, spin moves and kicked balls came standard.
The only thing missing was a foul call. There was one, but the Globetrotters and the chanting crowd easily tricked the referee into awarding one free throw instead of two.
“I thought it was really funny and exciting,” said Kayla Green, a 9-year-old girl who was watching the Globetrotters for the first time.
Green cited Globie and the musical chairs as her favorite part of the show.
“And I liked when he went up and stood on top of the basket,” she added.
Kyenne Lopez, a 9-year-old Medford resident, also had a blast.
“It was actually pretty fun,” he said.
Lopez also got a kick out of Globie, but his favorite gag came at the expense of the referee, who had his underwear ripped right out of his pants by Hammer, who was protesting a foul call.
“I was giving him a wedgie,” explained Hammer, whose official position is listed in the roster as “Showman.”
Other highlights included a gag in which the players executed a long sequence of events in reverse, a slow-motion replay, a spectacular trampoline dunk exhibition put on by the High Flying Globies and a game of keepaway between Firefly and six kids from the audience.
“Wonderful!” an exasperated Firefly said after the kids were congratulated. “Those kids tried to kill me.”
And then there was the water cooler chase, which began when a cup of water intended for one of the Globetrotters was flung out into the crowd. It escalated to a small bucket and finally the cooler, which was only filled with confetti. Expecting a wave of water, fans in the line of fire screamed as confetti flew out and Run-D.M.C.’s “It’s Tricky” played over the sound system.
“My kids had no idea, they didn’t even know what the words were — Harlem Globetrotters — so it was really cool,” Hulst said. “Oh my gosh, this is like the best family fun that you can have. Good, clean family fun. It’s wholesome, but they’re talented. It’s a real show.”
Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-776-4469 or firstname.lastname@example.org.