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Local hot shots go up against visiting Crowns in basketball fundraiser
Mayor John Lazar is beaten to the rim by one of the Fabulous Harlem Crowns.
The Fabulous Harlem Crowns simply don’t know how to let a game of basketball get in the way of a good joke.
Sure, the Harlem Crowns, a basketball team founded by a former Harlem Globetrotter, bring their “A” game to any contest. They bested a team of local celebrities 82-59 at Turlock High School on Wednesday, almost without breaking a sweat.
Using their unique variety of “clownball,” the Harlem Crowns quite literally dribbled circles around their opponents. They created their own assists, bounce passing the ball off of the Turlock all-stars’ backs. They put on a clinic in high-octane dunks that would make NBA stars wince with envy.
But it seemed like, more often than not, the Harlem Crowns were more interested in putting one over on the referees than the opposing team in the THS basketball fundraiser.
A Harlem Crown, on his way to the free throw line, “accidentally” grabbed the referee’s bald head.
“Hey, that’s the wrong ball!” said another Crown.
The Crowns weren’t afraid to get the audience involved in the game — or the joke — either. Players came and sat down with fans while the game was going, showing the Crowns could keep winning even if they were a man down.
In a halftime highlight, Carson Steele, age 7, was brought out onto the court to try a shot with the Crowns. After sinking a between the legs bucket, Carson was lifted into the air by the whole team for a monstrous slam dunk — at least as monstrous as a seven year old could manage.
Even when a Crown appeared to be “injured,” with pleas going out to the audience for a doctor in the house, the Harlem Crowns took advantage of an opportunity for a laugh. The fact that there was no doctor on hand wasn’t a problem for the Crowns.
“It’s okay, he said he would rather have a nurse,” a Crown quipped.
Although it was easy to lose track, there was an actual basketball game going on through all the hilarity.
Turlock Journal Sports Reporter Chhun Sun was the closest thing to a star player for the Turlock squad, making the first basket of the game for the Turlock squad and tying the game. It was the last time the Turlockers would be even with the zany Crowns, despite the Crowns often handing the ball back to Turlock players after a missed shot to offer a second chance.
As the game progressed and Turlock fell further and further behind, the local squad tried to even the game with a bit of their own razzle-dazzle. Sun was lifted into the air by a fellow Turlock player for a highlight reel slam-dunk – which, unfortunately, rattled off the rim.
“It was the best experience of my life, only second to being born,” Sun said.
The Turlock team tried to get the audience on their side themselves, throwing the ball out to an audience who wanted to take a shot from the bleachers. Turlock High staff member Rufus Keaton even did his best Kareem Abdul-Jabbar impression, launching sky hook shots that surprisingly hit more often than they missed, including one from beyond the arc.
While Turlock’s team didn’t best the Harlem Crowns in either points or jokes, everyone present had a great time. Even Mayor John Lazar — one of the Turlock all-stars — had a ball going up against the Fabulous Harlem Crowns.
“For a guy that’s 50 years old and out of shape, it’s a lot of fun,” Lazar said.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.