It was a little more than a year ago when Temple University alumnus Fatima "TNT" Maddox became one of just a few women to earn an invitation to the Harlem Globetrotters' tryouts in Philadelphia - and she wasn't about to waste the opportunity.
With her signature crossover move - later dubbed "The Cyclone" - and some explosive ball handling that eventually led to her current nickname, Maddox walked away from the tryouts to become the first female Globetrotter since 1993.
Just the invitation to the tryout floored me," Maddox recalls. "I never in a million years thought I'd be a Globetrotter. I went to the tryouts without any expectations. Immediately, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. Luckily for me, it worked out."
Maddox will take her moves to the court at the Wildwoods Convention Center when the Harlem Globetrotters return for a series of four games beginning Wednesday, Aug. 8., and running through Saturday, Aug. 11. Games will take place nightly at 7 p.m.
The games in the Wildwoods will feature stars from the Globetrotters' rookie class, including Maddox and Jacob "Hops" Tucker, the 2011 College Slam Dunk Champ.
The rookies will team up with veteran Globetrotter stars such as Herbert "Flight Time" Lang, a two-time competitor on "The Amazing Race"; Hi-Lite Bruton, who was originally drafted by the Chicago Bulls; and top ball-handlers Firefly Fisher, Blenda Rodriguez, Hammer Harrison and sharp shooting Slick Willie Shaw.
The world-famous Globe-trotters, now celebrating their 86th year, are well-known for their sometimes gravity-defying, ball-handling skills. Tucker, for example, is 5-foot-10 and sports a 50-inch vertical leap.
For Maddox, the experience has been a dream come true.
"It's been more than what I've ever expected," Maddox says. "I always wanted to play professional ball. It's a lot of fun - the guys are great. I wasn't sure how receptive they would be (with a female player). They treat me like a little sister. I felt like I had two brothers when I walked in. Now I have 30.
"I tell people, (the games are) unique, because you can bring the entire family," Maddox says. "There are not many things you can enjoy as a family. These are memories that they're never going to forget."
For "Flight Time" Lang, a 13-year Globetrotter veteran, stepping onto the basketball court never gets old.
"We play a lot of games," says Lang, one of the Harlem Globetrotters' most versatile ball handlers. "You see the kids and the moms and the grandparents out there. I look at it as an opportunity to give those kids the same memories as their grandparents - make sure we give them a good show.
"I always tell the new guys - live in the moment," Lang says. "Even after 13 years, every time I go on, I don't take it for granted. I've been to over 90 countries around the world. I've been able to put smiles on a lot of people's faces."
Now, after appearing on two seasons of the hit reality television show "The Amazing Race," Lang gets recognized a bit more often, he says.
"It's made my autograph line a bit longer," Lang says with a laugh. "Having done (the show) twice - it was a great experience. It was an opportunity for me to see the world in a different way."
As for a Globetrotters game, Lang says, it is something that needs to be experienced in person.
"Coming to a Globetrotters game is a lot different than watching on television," Lang says. "There is only so much a camera can catch. We've got great athletes. We've got our best rookie class, like 'TNT,' and some of our top veterans. We've definitely got the cream of the crop coming to Wildwood."
The Wildwood series also will mark the first time Lang has played with his "Amazing Race" partner Big Easy Lofton in two years, something Lang says he is looking forward to.
"We've got our mascot, great slam dunkers, great shooters, and you never know when you're going to take part in a Globetrotters game. There's so much more going on (in person), it's hard to explain."
Players also typically spend time after the games signing autographs and posing for photos.
"And we like to listen to the feedback, like when the older people come up and remind us of Meadowlark (Lemon) and (Fred) Curly Neal," Lang says. "We're 86 years strong, and it's definitely for a reason."