Red, white, and blue basketballs spinning behind backs, between legs, and bouncing off the opposing players’ backs.
Players showing off high-flying dunk shots.
The world’s fastest dribbler trying to break another record.
Ballers chasing each other with water bottles, taunting referees, and pulling down the opposition’s shorts.
Even, players dancing on the rim of the goal.
Take these tricks in any combination and Baton Rouge is in for basketball wizardry, Saturday, January 18, when the Harlem Globetrotters bring “magic” to the court, said the team’s 12th female baller, Joyce “Sweet J” Ekworomadu, 27. She shares the female star title with fellow Globetrotters TNT Maddox and T-Time Brawner.
The world renown Globetrotters are known for their combination of basketball skills, tricks, dancing—and a lot of personality. “You can’t miss out on this,” she said. “We are wizards of basketball.”
But don’t get lost in the entertainment of it all. Basketball is serious business for these players who were All-Stars college standouts.
Sweet J, who is currently a rookie, hailed from Texas State University of San Marcus as the Southland Conference Player of the Year and third place winner of the 2008 College 3-Point Championship. She now plays professionally for the Globetrotters and the Nigerian National Team. She was given the name Sweet J by the Globetrotters because of her sweet jump shot—and her first name is Joyce.
She said the Globetrotters plan to bring their best, high energy, thrilling game with a message of empowerment for Baton Rouge families. “They will be inspired and feel nothing but positive energy,” she said. “They will take home a lifetime of memories.”
The Globetrotters have played for more than 88 years around the world. This year, in the United States alone, the players will compete in as many as 300 games in 250 cities during the 4-month Fans Rule Tour. Then, they will take the game around the world to places like Germany, the United Kingdom, and France for the remaining of the year.
At 2pm and 7pm, the Globetrotters will face off against Select at the Baton Rouge River Center.
“There really is no off season. We play 12 months and do a lot of community outreach,” said Sweet J. But that type of commitment isn’t hard for 5’10” point guard. She has played basketball daily since age 10 and has a passion and “calling to be around kids through the (basketball) court.”
“Every time I did something different, God brought me right back to the court,” she said. “Now, I’m impacting children on a bigger scale,” she said.
“This is the dream job. I get to play ball, display my personality, and work with children, all together in one package.”
After graduating with a marketing degree, Sweet J taught at Granbury High School briefly. She also played basketball overseas professionally before trying out for the Globetrotters last year. (She was encouraged to do so by current teammate Freddie Bush.)
“I am privileged to be in position to inspire others. The Harlem Globetrotters is such a positive brand,” said Sweet J. “You have to be energetic to play and have personality, and keep a positive image.”
Sweet J frequently plays for Nigeria’s basketball team when schedule permits. Although she’s a Dallas, Tx, native, she qualifies to play in her parents’ native country. This gives her the opportunity to see family and parts of the country she said she would not have seen otherwise.
“From a young age, I’ve always wanted to have a prolonged basketball career,” she said. Now 27 years old, Sweet J said, “My court time will be until I can’t walk.”
The Globetrotters have a 2pm game Sunday (Jan. 19) in the Lafayette Cajun Dome.
By Candace J. Semien
Jozef Syndicate reporter