Harlem Globetrotters perform in Flowers Hall

Tay “Firefly” Fisher (left) tricks a defender during the Harlem Globetrotter’s performance in Flowers Hall Jan. 12. The world-famous group is in its 90th year of entertaining audiences across the globe with remarkable basketball skills.

It is a rare occasion when a world-famous group visits the small town of Florence, but when it happens, the community supports the event.

The Harlem Globetrotters made an appearance in Florence Jan. 12 on their 90th annual world tour. The team performed in front of a capacity crowd against their archenemy, the World All-Stars.

The Globetrotters formed in 1926, performing for crowds in North and South Dakota, Montana and Iowa. The team started gaining popularity in the late-1930s after incorporating comedic routines, making the events entertaining for the whole family.

The Globetrotters, as expected, displayed skill and showmanship, hoodwinking their way to a 90-86 victory and continuing their winning streak of over 3,500 games. A plethora of Globetrotter fans lined up for post-game autographs.

One of the widely known Globetrotters is Tay Fisher, but fans know him better as “Firefly.” Fisher said traveling with the Globetrotters can be demanding but is worth it.

“I’ve been doing this for seven years,” Fisher said. “I love my job, and it’s been an amazing experience. I love putting smiles on peoples’ faces, and we have the power to do that, no matter what they are going through.”

Fisher, who played college basketball for Siena College in Albany, New York, said the Globetrotters drafted him in 2008, but he did not officially make the team until the following year.

“We (Siena) made it to the NCAA tournament and beat Vanderbilt in the first round,” Fisher said. “Being able to perform on national TV helped them find me.

“(The Harlem Globetrotters) followed my career, and they gave me an opportunity back in 2008. I didn’t make it the first time I tried, but I came back in 2009 and did even better.”

Fisher said he has traveled to 52 countries since joining the Globetrotters. The team stays on the road roughly eight months out of the year, he said.

“We leave Christmas morning and don’t come back home until May when we do our North American tour,” he said. “Any time in between that, we are out of the country doing things. Personally, I may play 150 games a year. It’s a pretty demanding schedule.”

UNA Senior Administrative Assistant for Events Gigi Broadway said she had full confidence the event would be an overall success.

“My phone was ringing off the hook,” Broadway said. “Everyone has been asking what time they could get in to see the Globetrotters. We sold quite a bit of tickets, and it was a huge success.”

UNA Game Operations Manager Matt Daniels said it was a childhood dream come true not only to work the event, but also watch a team he admired in his youth.

“It’s a great event that the community really gets excited about,” Daniels said. “My dad took me when I first fell in love with basketball. As a kid, it’s mesmerizing to watch what they can do with a basketball.”

Junior Jeb Millender, who attended the event the day before classes resumed, said the event helped him hit the ground running coming into the spring semester.

“I thought it was a really good way to start the year,” Millender said. “It put a smile on everyone’s face before having to come back to school. I thought it was nice to see a bunch of kids smiling and laughing. It was just a good all-around experience.”

Fans can access the team’s schedule on the official Harlem Globetrotters website, harlemglobetrotters.com.