BENDIGO could not get enough of the word-famous Harlem Globetrotters on Friday.
The legendary travelling basketball troupe dunked, danced and dribbled their way into the hearts of thousands during two performances at Bendigo Stadium, including a sell-out show on Friday night.
Into their 93rd year, the Globetrotters have never struggled for an audience, or worn out their welcome.
The secret to their success is simple, according to coach Louis ‘Sweet Lou’ Dunbar.
“We are clean, wholesome, family entertainment – and great basketball players,” he said.
“You watch the guys shoot four-point shots, that’s not easy. Very few basketballers can do that and knock them down so consistently.
“We’ve never stopped trying to put a smile on people’s faces all around the world and that’s what we’ll keep doing.”
Dunbar played for 24 years with the Globetrotters and has now coached for 15.
He said he considered himself fortunate to have latched on to a coaching gig once his playing days ended.
“There’s an old saying - ‘the mind says go, but the legs say no’ – but I enjoy teaching these young guys the things I once did, it’s been a great experience,” he said in reference to his playing days.
“A lot has changed in my time – we like to keep things modern.
“That said we do a lot of things we did 50 years ago because people want to see that. We still take the lady’s purse and throw the water and confetti – people expect that.”
Dunbar, who in his prime stood 6 feet, 9 inches and was considered one of the first true, big guards in college basketball, saw no end in sight to the Globetrotters’ popularity.
“We’ve been around 93 years – when you and I are out of here – they’ll still be going strong,” he said.
Friday’s audiences comprised a good mix of young and older fans, many who were seeing the basketball icons for the first time.
For Bendigo newcomer John Lillyston, it was his first glimpse of the Globetrotters since watching them in London about 60 years ago.
He said the troupe’s longevity had come as a pleasant shock.
“When I saw the ad, we had to go.” said Lillyston, who attended the show with his wife Cilla and nominated Meadowlark Lemon as his favourite all-time Harlem Globetrotter.
“From my recollection the act has changed, but you can’t deny the skills we saw were breathtaking.
“Those four points shots are something to see.
“The (Washington Generals) were really skilful too – they had their part to play - but the Globetrotters are still winners and still popular.”
Friday night’s show sold out in less than an hour when tickets initially went on sale in February.
Bendigo Stadium Limited chief executive officer Nathan O’Neill said BSL could not have been more thrilled to have the Globetrotters in Bendigo.
“What an experience to be able to host the Harlem Globetrotters - great entertainment for all,” he said.
“It is fan experiences like this that we are very honoured to be able to bring to the community.”