The Harlem Globetrotters have found a new way to beat the Washington Generals — on ice.
The famed basketball barnstormers played on a hockey rink for the first time in their 84-year history Tuesday, putting on a show in New York’s Central Park ahead of a tour of the area. Players wore ice cleats over their shoes, headbands outside their hockey helmets, and no one on either team took off his warmups, even though it was warm and sunny by February-in-New-York standards.
Perhaps disappointingly, no one commandeered a Zamboni.
Even so, the Globetrotters were up to their usual antics. Twice, the Globetrotters’ Kris "Hi-Lite" Bruton came out of a timeout wearing a goalie mask and carrying a hockey stick. He batted down shots, drawing a whistle.
"Hey!" the referee admonished Bruton. "This is basketball!"
"I know," Bruton said. "But I can’t play defense without it."
Fair enough. No foul was called.
The mascots were less successful – Globie slipped and fell on an icy patch while cavorting around the outside of the rink before the start of the game. During an intermission, inflatable mascot Big G also biffed while trying to take the ice.
Of course, no one takes a fall for entertainment value quite like the Washington Generals.
The ice game was supposedly the brainchild of their owner, Red Klotz.
The idea was that playing on ice would help the Generals take full advantage of their jump-shooting ability and neutralize the Globetrotters’ speed that so often makes the Generals dizzy.
Like most Generals gambits, though, it proved to be a flop. The Globetrotters cruised to a 32-15 win — their 13,140th in a row against the Generals. The streak stretches over parts of five decades and includes games on the roof of an arena, the deck of an aircraft carrier, bullrings and Vatican City.
"It doesn’t matter if it’s hardwood, ice or sand," Bruton said. "The Harlem Globetrotters come out to win."
The Generals will get a few more bites at the apple, though, when the teams play at Madison Square Garden and three other arenas — all indoors — around the New York area over the next week or so.
The Globetrotters didn’t get to practice on ice until the morning of the game, and had to quickly learn how to handle themselves on the slick surface. The helmets were for safety, and not hockey atmosphere.
"What’s the point of playing a sport if you don’t like a challenge?" the Globetrotters’ Ervin "Rocket" Rivers said.