Harlem Globetrotters Basketball Star
Shares His Inspiring Story
Out of sheer curiosity I asked 10 people of all ages and ethnicity if he or she knew the new Harlem Globetrotters theme — not necessarily the song title, but what it sounded like. And every one of them knew how to whistle “Sweet Georgia Brown.” I was really impressed by that.
That just goes to show that the Harlem Globetrotters are a household entity — always have been and always will be.
They are coming to play a game in my hometown of Nashville, so when I got an opportunity to interview one of the team’s star players, I jumped at the chance: number 30, Zeus McClurkin — a mountain of a man who stands at 6’8″, originally from Columbus, Ohio, and an alumnus from the College at North Carolina A&T State University.
Some interesting facts about Zeus:
1. Was cut from every team he tried out for from seventh grade through tenth grade, but he never gave up on his dreams, and eventually made his high school teams his junior and senior seasons
2. Was a walk-on at North Carolina A&T State University, making the team and beating out 30 other hopefuls in the process
3. Played for several professional basketball teams at home and abroad
4. Has exercise-induced asthma and has to carry an inhaler with him at all times
Zeus McClurkin is a true testament and inspiration for never giving up and never allowing obstacles to get in the way of achieving his dreams.
In your fourth season as a Globetrotter how do you like your experiences so far?
It is by far my best basketball experience. I played basketball overseas for a little bit in Paraguay, South America. After that I went on to play against the Harlem Globetrotters for the Washington Generals, and that was five years ago. I guess the Globetrotters got tired of me dunking on them, so they went ahead and signed me on to a contract.
As an athlete that deals with asthma on a daily basis, do you have any advice for young people who want to play sports?
I think if you are experiencing shortness of breath you should definitely go and see your doctor and see if you possibly have asthma. What I have is called exercised-induced bronchial spasms. It is like an acute case of asthma; it is not one where you have to keep your inhaler on you everywhere you go. However, if you ever experience shortness of breath it is a bit of a rescue or a preventative rescue for you. I didn’t know I had this condition all the way up through college, and it turned out that when I found out I did, it didn’t hinder me at all. I didn’t let it hinder me or bother me. I went ahead and pushed foreword and didn’t use it as an excuse or a crutch to say I couldn’t go any further into sports. My advice to everyone is to be mindful of what is going on in your body and how your body is working.
Can you discuss in detail what the Globetrotters do in every city for a local “Hometown Hero”?
This year we are doing something special to honor our military. You can log onto harlemglobetrotters.com and nominate a hometown hero. This year we are doing something called our “hometown hero inactive.” What that involves is that any active, retired, or wounded warrior here in the military, you can log online and nominate them to be honored at the game, and a portion of our games this year will be played with a camouflage basketball for the third quarter. That is us doing a tribute for our military and trying to give back to people who support us so much and do so much for us.
Our site deals with a lot of religious and spiritual topics and in every interview we usually ask a question related to spirituality. Do you consider yourself a religious or spiritual person?
I am someone who has a lot of faith in God, and I pray and I believe that in fact has a lot to do with my success in the sport of basketball. A lot of prayer and meditation — you know, just time to yourself. I have a good family background, and they are my number one supporters, and I have a good church background as well. They support me in all of my athletic endeavors. I would say it is very important to pray.
What can a first-timer such as myself expect coming to a Harlem Globetrotters game?
Well, if you have never been to a Globetrotters game before, first off, where have you been? [laughs] Second off, you will have the time of your life, I guarantee it. One of the greatest experiences for me whenever I first went to a Globetrotters game was looking across the court, and I saw a five-year-old having the time of their life. I saw their mother having a great time, and you even see some grandparents in there, laughing through all of the antics that we are going to be doing. You are going to be seeing high flying dunks, precision passes — you are going to have a lot of fun. We have unrivaled comedy. It’s really a lot of things that go into a Globetrotter game that you wouldn’t see in any other sporting event. So it’s a lot.
I wanted to share something interesting with you. I asked 10 people if they knew the Harlem Globetrotters theme, all ages, and they all knew how to whistle it. They didn’t all know the name of the song, but they knew how to whistle it.
That is amazing. And a lot of people don’t know the name. Do you know what it is called?
Sweet Georgia Brown.
Yes sir, yes sir [laughs].
It just amazes me how important the Globetrotters have been to people through the years and what you guys mean to people.
Well, we have been around for 89 years. This is our 89th consecutive season, and we started in 1926, and it is a lot of nostalgia and a lot of history behind the team. Everywhere we go, especially when we play the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, we are the hometown team everywhere we go, and Nashville always treats us right, and I am really looking foreword to coming out there.