Harlem Globetrotters bounce through Bagram
January 9, 2013
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Service members deployed to Afghanistan shoot a few hoops from time to time, but rarely do they get to witness professionals playing basketball from a courtside view. However, on Nov. 28, at Bagram Air Field, they were entertained with the fast-paced, side-splitting style of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters.
For the first time ever, the Harlem Globetrotters traveled to Afghanistan on a scheduled 10-game tour, which began at Bagram Air Field in an attempt to bring the troops a little piece of home.
For the first time in the Globetrotters' 87-year history, they honored the troops by wearing a specially designed camouflage uniform and played with a camouflage basketball, in addition to their trademark red, white and blue basketball.
The current Globetrotters roster is filled with a slew of memorable characters, such as "Bones," "Slick Willie" and "Firefly," but who might be the most memorable from the team was the lone female of the gang on this trip and rookie, "T-Time."
Standing at 5-foot-6, "T-Time" Brewer is quite remarkable for her stature. She displayed ball-handling skills that rivaled the rest of her male teammates with nimble, hair-trigger prowess.
"I think it's amazing that these soldiers admire us and want our autograph," said "T-Time." "When it's us who admire them for what they do here - they go out on this line and defend our country, which allows us to go home and enjoy our country. The soldiers are so humble and they bring me a lot of joy being able to interact with them."
Being a pioneer, in a sense, as one of only a few female Globetrotters in the history of the Harlem Globetrotters, "T-Time" has a sense of kinship with female service members.
"We share common ground, as a woman I've had to overcome certain barriers to get where I'm at on this team, which I'm sure women in the military have had to overcome as well and I admire them so much," she said.
Anyone who has ever seen the Globetrotters perform in recent years would remember seeing the spin master, "Slick Willie" Shaw, and his trademark ability to spin the basketball behind his back, between his legs and anywhere else he seems to desire.
In his ninth season with the Globetrotters, "Slick Willie" pointed out that Afghanistan is the 121st country the Harlem Globetrotters have visited entertaining the troops and this is their 11th consecutive year with a military tour.
It was quite clear by the expression on their faces during the performance that the Globetrotters were really enjoying themselves, but more evident in the crowded venue, a large tent converted into a basketball court, were the excited fans who were witnessing a performance they might remember for years to come.
U.S. Army Capt. Trecia-Ann Falden, a psychologist with 219th Combat Operation Stress Control, Task Force 14 Med, was beside herself with excitement.
"This was excellent," said Falden. "This puts a smile on our face; we're working all the time and it's really important to have some laughter in this environment to help with our mental and emotional toughness."
Another notable member of the Harlem Globetrotters was fourth-year man "Firefly" Fisher from Kingston, N.Y., who happened to reunite with a high school friend, now a soldier deployed here with the New York Army National Guard.
U.S. Army Sgt. Joriann Garcia-Hernandez with the 427th Brigade Support Company from Syracuse, N.Y., is one of "Firefly's" high school friends who was able reunite with his schoolmate and enjoy the performance.
"I never thought I'd ever see someone from high school out here, and for it to be Tey "Firefly" Fisher is awesome," said Garcia-Hernandez. "He was always such a good ball player in high school and in college, and to run into him here in a combat zone is very cool."
"It's always nice to be able to get together over the holiday season, laugh and have some fun," said "Firefly." And it's nice to be able to bring some of that to the troops here in Afghanistan. I feel so honored to be a part of this, and there's no better way to show our appreciation to the troops than with our custom made camouflage uniforms."
"Firefly" was able to visit Bagram's 9/11 memorial site, which meant a great deal to him being a native New Yorker.
"To be able to connect with soldiers and to connect with other New Yorkers is an amazing experience for me that I'll take back to New York and share with the rest of my friends and family," added "Firefly."