The Harlem Globetrotters will perform Monday, March 27, at 7 p.m. at the Crown Coliseum.
Orlando El Gato Melendez and I had a conversation about their upcoming performance and life as a Globetrotter.
How does it feel to be the first Puerto Rican player for the Harlem Globetrotters?
It is something amazing. It is crazy because the first time I saw the Globetrotters was on Scooby Doo Saturday mornings. To go from there to growing up and watching basketball and becoming a Globetrotter is out of this world. Now I am going beyond just being the first Puerto Rican player, and I am representing all of the Hispanics and Latinos around the world. We are the best basketball team in the world, so for me, it is a privilege and honor to represent not just Puerto Rico but all Hispanics the right way and in a positive manner.
What is the process to become a Harlem Globetrotter?
First, there is a recruiting process that a lot of other guys have gone through. In my case, I got recommended by a professional coach that I knew when I was playing professional basketball in Puerto Rico. We bumped into each other, and he asked me did I want to be a Globetrotter, and I said yes. I got the call to go to the tryouts and also had a complete full job interview. The guys interviewing you are former Globetrotters who are legends. They know everything about you and want to make sure you are a good person.
What should we expect when the Globetrotters come to the Crown March 27?
We have been going for 91 years now, so you will see some of the old stuff which is stuff we remember when we were kids. We are going to bring young people to dance on the court. It is always fun to bring all of the family to a Globetrotters game.
What are some of the things that the Globetrotters do for children?
The best thing about being a Globetrotter is that lots of people do not know what we do outside of the court. We visit schools and hospitals around the nation and outside of the U.S. We have a program called the “ABCs of Bullying Prevention,” and we talk to kids in schools about how to deal with bullying in school, outside of school and social media. We have another program called “Smile Patrol,” and we visit different hospitals to give the kids smiles, our tricks, and jokes because they cannot attend the games. We love it!
Tell me one thing about yourself that people would be surprised to know.
When I’m not playing basketball, I am an interior designer and DJ. These are things I always wanted to do when I was a kid. I always liked to draw and design things. I was always playing with Legos and building different things. The music part was always there for me because my grandpa had a nice collection of records.
For more information about the Globetrotters visit www.harlemglobetrotters.com.
For ticket information call 438-4100.