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Handles From The Harlem Globetrotters Discusses Group’s Glorious History

Handles and the YMCA


Since 1926, the Harlem Globetrotters has been the premier barnstorming sports team in history. Playing north of 20,000 games in 120 countries in their history, the Globetrotters have been wowing fans with their dazzling dribbling, monster jams and comedic stylings for 90 years, a fact they are celebrating on their current tour. Names like Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon and even Wilt Chamberlain are some of the characters that have appeared in the legendary Globetrotter uniform. From a carton series to television specials and even a video game, the Harlem Globetrotters brand has stood the test of time and continues to set the standard in sports entertainment.

On January 1st, the Globetrotters will make their way to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ to help celebrate the New Year. I had the opportunity to interview one of the Globetrotters, Handles Franklin, ahead of his team making their way to the tri-state area in the coming days. Early on in his life, Handles had a pretty good idea as to what he wanted to do when he grew up.

“For me what’s unique is that my only aspiration since I was a kid was to be a Globetrotter so everything I did prior was to get to the Globetrotters,” Handles said. “After I played college basketball at Lock Haven University, I went to graduate school and afterwards I tried to get with the Globetrotters and it didn’t work out.”

“I played in different pro leagues the ABA, the EBA and I played overseas for a second. I got my big break when I competed in the world’s greatest dribblers contest by Nike and I won the competition. They said they wanted to do commercial called “Freestyle” where we did tricks and that commercial won 13 awards. I signed a contract with Nike as one of the best ball handlers in the world and the Globetrotters came looking for me. That’s why it’s equally as important for me to talk to kids and let them know their dreams are achievable and obtainable also because I’m a living testament to that.”

As mentioned, Handles was enamored by the Harlem Globetrotters at a young age and his earliest memories of the Globetrotters are still vivid to him to this day.

“It was definitely the cartoon. As a six-year old kid, I saw them on the cartoons and it resonated with the little kid that I was so I picked up a basketball and never put it back down. As a kid I studied the Globetrotters and Curly Neal by getting down on the ground and dribbling. I patterned my game more like the Globetrotters than NBA players.”

The Globetrotters are celebrating their 90th anniversary right now. For an organization to stay relevant and popular after 90 years is a testament to not only the star power on the court but what the group stands for.

“First I’m honored to be a part of such an iconic organization. For 90 years we have been able to cross generations and I think it means that you don’t have to be a basketball fan to enjoy our brand of family entertainment. I think we resonate with all members of the family from little kids to grandparents; they could all come and have a good time. More importantly it talks about the character of the players in the organization. We pride ourselves on being great basketball players but more importantly being ambassadors of goodwill, good role models for kids and players of good character. I think that’s what gives the Globetrotters staying power.”

Something that the Harlem Globetrotters pride themselves on is the team’s interaction with children from around the world. I asked Handles how he feels when he sees the face of children who is amazed by the feats that the Globetrotters perform on a nightly basis during their games.

“I love it. I like to say we live to inspire. I try to live my life in way that inspires others to be successful in life and I love turning on the Harlem Globetrotters to a whole new generation. I remember how I felt as a kid when I got introduced to the Globetrotters so now being able to have a chance to go around the world and introduce people to this iconic organization is just a great feeling. We love bringing families together and creating memories that last a lifetime and that’s what we try to do not only night in and night out at the game but with every encounter we have off the court.”

Let’s be honest, New Years Day is a day where many people are not doing many things. With a Harlem Globetrotters game on January 1st, it seems that Handles believes what we all should be doing on that day.

“I really believe it sells itself. There’s no better way to bring in the New Year than at a Harlem Globetrotter event. We promote not only a great game and show where you will see high-flying slam dunks, great ball handling and funny comedy but also you’ll see a bunch of role models that your kids can look up to and be proud of. It’s a way to bring the family together and bring in the New Year as a family unit. Remember, we create memories that last a lifetime.”

The Harlem Globetrotters 90th Anniversary Tour comes to Prudential Center on Friday, January 1st. Doors open at 2 p.m. with the show beginning at 3 p.m. If you get to “The Rock” early, you can participate in an on-court meet and greet with Handles and his Globetrotter teammates to learn ball tricks, shoot with members of the team and take photos with the players. Tickets start at $25 and great seats are still available. For more information on the Harlem Globetrotters game on January 1st, go to the Prudential Center website, Ticketmaster or the Harlem Globetrotters website.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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