By Cameron Barnett
Imagine walking into a gymnasium filled with some of the best basketball players in the world playing as one team in a basketball game against your very own teachers. Then, just imagine these players jumping over your teachers, throwing basketballs behind their backs, and scoring points while helping your school make money for things such as new textbooks, computers, and other state of the art school supplies. Well, on October 29th, 2008, the Harlem Wizards competed in a fund raising basketball game against the teachers of Marlboro Middle School in New Jersey.
The game took place at Marlboro High School, Marlboro, and money was raised for the Marlboro Middle School PTO. On the day of the game, the Harlem Wizards went to Marlboro Middle School and spoke to students about the importance of self esteem and good character. Echoing the important life lessons of the Wizards, Marlboro Police DARE Officer Eric Hayes, who also spent time with the Wizards and the students and participated in the game said, “My favorite part about this whole program is that it brings people together and raises money for a good cause.”
Since the Harlem Wizards where first founded in 1962, the team has traveled all around the United States and over seas playing for schools, corporations, and other private events. But, rather than just playing a normal game of basketball, the Harlem Wizards perform tricks on the court such as shooting a basketball behind their backs, or jumping into midair and slamming the ball into the basket, and even jumping over people to make a basket.
When asked about how this type basketball differs from regular basketball, we asked key player SKYCAM, also known as Ron Ferguson Jr. about this. He referred to this type of basketball as “Comedy Basketball” and said, “Our main goal is that we play for the fans. We’re here for the people, as opposed to the competition. We are here to put a show on for the people.”
Prior to the contest, Wizard’s SWOOP, also known as Dwayne Simpson who also played for the Harlem Globetrotters stated, “My favorite part about being a Harlem Wizard is performing for the kids. I love seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces and those of the parents as well, because they know it’s for a great cause.”
Before tip-off, the teacher’s of Marlboro Middle School were introduced on to the court to the Guns N’ Roses classic Welcome To The Jungle. As the teacher’s hustled to the middle of the court, excitement built throughout the gymnasium. Then, as the Wizards of Harlem stepped onto the court, fear was present in the eyes of the teachers. When the game was underway, the teachers tried desperately to beat the world renowned Wizards.
Superintendent of the Marlboro School District, Dr. David C. Abbott, who also participated in the game said, “The game plan was to try to put people out there who could at least score some points.” Unfortunately, the plan was unsuccessful and the Harlem Wizards improved their winning streak to over 2,800 wins.
Even though the teachers of Marlboro Middle School lost the game by twenty points, the event was still a tremendous financial fundraising success. As the fans left the school, they were very pleased about the amazing basketball game they had just witnessed. Although the teachers had lost the game, students were impressed by how well some of them could play. The event was a great success, and both parents and students were heard commenting that they hoped to see more events like this in the future.
The Harlem Wizards would like you to preview our new :30 second commercial. Scenes include footage from our performance this summer at Madison Square Garden as well as a shoot in Harlem in front of the Apollo Theatre.