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Every January during the week prior to the annual Harlem Globetrotters’ performance at Van Andel Arena, there’s a few of us SMG staff members lucky enough to spend a media day with one of the players. The “Advance Ambassador” for the Globetrotters will be chaperoned by a few of our staff as we journey through and around the city hitting several media outlets (television and radio, mostly) to promote the then-upcoming game.
A portion of the day is also set out to allow the Advance Ambassador to engage the youth and give back to the community. Globetrotters spend a lot of their time outside the gym and in schools promoting various causes throughout the globe. This year was no different.
Although the game has passed, we’d chronicled the day to show you, fans, what a day being an Advance Ambassador is like. Here’s our story:
On January 24th, we followed this year’s Globetrotters Advance Ambassador, “Buckets” Blakes. It was a truly unforgettable experience. Having the chance to see a day in the life of a Harlem Globetrotter allowed us not only to get a glimpse of a typical day for a world-class athlete/entertainer, but also a shining example of what makes the Harlem Globetrotters an unmatched and unique sports organization that continues to stand the test of time.
The life of a Globetrotter Ambassador is not one for those who aren’t fond of waking up before the sun does. The day began with a tour of as many early morning shows as we could hit, from WOOD TV (Daybreak & eightwest) and WZZM (Take Five) to multiple radio stations, including WTRV, WFGR, WLHT, and WJRW.Everywhere we went we heard new stories that reinforced the impact the Globetrotters have had on families for many years.Whether it was Buckets explaining the community involvement and special projects of the organization or show staff members openly sharing their own Globetrotters involved memories from childhood.Everyone wanted a picture with Buckets, and he was more than inviting when asked to pose in another snapshot.
In between stops through the media, Buckets got a little hungry. Waking up before dawn and not eating through the morning, we completely understood why. So being in the neighborhood, we thought what better way to show Buckets a slice of GR than to take Buckets to one of GR’s very well-known bakeries for some quick food—Wealthy Street Bakery (The Danish? Phenomenal).
Later on we headed over to MLive where Buckets took part in a paper shooting contest against the MLive staff a.k.a “Hubtrotters” while being interviewed.Once again, Buckets had full celebrity status in the building as everyone gathered around to meet him and watch their co-workers try to out-shoot the basketball pro.As with every stop we visited, Buckets lit up the room while spreading the good deeds and efforts of the Harlem Globetrotters, including their teamwork with the National Campaign to Stop Violence.
Finally we stopped in at Brookwood Elementary School in Kentwood where Buckets spoke to the students—who had absolutely no problem displaying their excitement as Buckets walked through the doors of the gym—about the ABCs of Bullying Prevention.After getting the kids to volunteer their own ideas for preventing bullying, he taught a few of the kids some cool tricks and showed off a few of his own before posing for a few more pictures and signing a couple autographs.Even the adults were rushing over for a moment with Buckets.
Throughout the day, Buckets kept talking about how the Globetrotters recruit players, saying they are always on the lookout for “great basketball players, great athletes, great entertainers, and great people.”After a long media day with a Globetrotter, we can safely say that the Harlem Globetrotters are accomplishing just that while achieving great things along the way.Young or old, the Globetrotters continue to make an impact in communities across the planet through entertainment, athletics, charitable works and humanitarian programs.We will always look forward to the next time these guys trot back into town.
To check out some of the interviews and more articles about some of the visits that "Buckets" Blakes made on January 24th, follow these links: