Arts & Entertainment

Globetrotters to play Feb. 21 at Toyota Center

Aundre Branch is a hot shot basketball player. In fact, he's such a "hot shot" his team, The Harlem Globetrotters, decided to make that his nickname.

So does he revel in it?

"I'm really kind of shy," he said with a sly smirk. "But I love the game and I love entertaining the kids."

The Globetrotters, known for their pranks on a basketball court, will be in the Tri-Cities for an exhibition game Feb. 21 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.

Branch, 36, has been a Globetrotter since 2001. The 6-foot-4 guard might be quiet off the court but once he gets on the hardwood he's anything but bashful. "The Globes have always been tricksters and jokers on the basketball court," said the former Baylor University star. "I love being a part of this team not just because it's so much fun to play basketball, but because of the good that comes from bringing all walks of life and families together for a good time."

The team was organized in 1926 by Abe Saperstein. And in 84 years the team has played more than 25,000 exhibition games in 118 countries.

The team markets itself as "Ambassadors of Goodwill" who have dunked their way into the hearts of basketball lovers, young and old.

In the early days, the team would barnstorm professional and amateur basketball teams during their exhibitions.

Some of the well-known players of the past include Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain, Fred "Curly" Neal and Meadowlark Lemon. These days, Branch says the players do more interacting with the crowd along with showing off a bit of fancy dribbling and shooting.

Branch, a skilled 3-point shooter, is pretty prolific at sinking a basket from almost any spot on the court.

"A Globetrotter game never gets old," he said. "People always have fun whether they're basketball fans or not."

The exhibition is at 4 p.m. Ticket prices start at $17 and are available at Toyota Center box office or www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets bought at the box office avoid service charges.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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