Derick “Dizzy” Grant was 7 years old when his parents took him to his first Harlem Globetrotters game in in Rochester, N.Y. — and he was mesmerized.
“I can remember it like it was yesterday,” says Grant, 31, speaking from his Princeton-area home. “I remember where we were sitting in the building. I remember being in awe. I remember sitting on the edge of my seat taking it all in. My parents bought me a basketball from the game there. I tried to do everything (the payers) did. It got me started.”
Now a member of the world-famous Globetrotters, Grant, once a New Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Year while attending The College of New Jersey, is living what he says has been a lifelong dream. He recalls with the same enthusiasm his very first professional game.
“It was amazing,” Grant recalls. “It was Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I remember coming out of the tunnel from the locker room, the smoke and everybody is cheering. It was like, ‘Wow here I am. Now I’m a Globetrotter.’”
The Globetrotters will take their fan interaction to a new level when the 2014 “Fans Rule” World Tour comes to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Sunday, Dec. 29 at 2 p.m.
The Globetrotters were the first sports organization to let fans vote on rules when the team introduced the concept in last year’s tour, which included stops in Wildwood. Due to the positive fan response, the Globetrotters have brought the concept back — with a twist.
The 2014 online ballot includes three never-before-seen rules:
Hot Hand Jersey — Both teams will have a “Hot Hand Jersey” they can pass among each other. The player who is wearing this jersey will receive double points on made baskets.
Make or Miss — The quarter begins with only two players on the court for each team. When a team scores, a teammate may enter the game. When they miss, the player missing the shot must leave the court, leaving his or her teammates shorthanded.
Trick Shot Challenge — Via three challenge flags per team, each coach can challenge the other team to make a trick shot. If the team makes the trick shot, they earn five points. If they miss, the other team receives five points.
Fans can vote which rules they want in place in Atlantic City by going to HarlemGlobetrotters.com/rule to choose.
“This year, with us playing with rules like the trick shot challenge, with the coach picking a player form an opposing team and requesting a specific trick shot — it really adds a lot of excitement to the game,” says Grant, who earned his “Dizzy” nickname due to slick ball handling that can make opponents dizzy watching. “With the make-or-miss quarter — if you miss, somebody has to come out of the game — it adds some nail biting for the fans. We’re excited.”
Grant will be joined on the court by stars like Special K Daley, Big Easy Lofton, Flight Time Lang, Hi-Lite Bruton, and female stars TNT Maddox, T-Time Brawner and Sweet J Ekworomadu.
The Globetrotters are known for their family-friendly shows and interaction with the audience. Games always include plenty of unique ball handling tricks, stunts and comedy. Grant, for example, has the distinction of being the first professional player to sink a 4-point shot, and is known for his spot-on impressions of both fellow Globetrotters and NBA players like Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James.
“LeBron wasn’t a big fan (of the impression),” Grant says, laughing, though he adds most players have loved the impersonations.
Following the Atlantic City game, which is the first stop of the 2014 tour, the Globetrotters will go on to play more than 290 games in over 250 cities, including Canada and Puerto Rico, through April.
And Grant — who admits to having the best job in the world — couldn’t be happier about the busy schedule.
“I think this is one of the few things you can bring the whole family to,” Grant says. “You know, we have parents, grandparents and grandchildren all coming, some remember the games from back in the ’40s. It’s just a good way to spend time with the family. It’s only four quarters, but the memories last a lifetime.”