H-O-R-S-E with a Globetrotter

April 24, 2010, 8:34 pm
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April 24, 2010STEINMETZ ARCHIVE

Editor's Note: CSNBayArea.com NBA Insider Matt Steinmetz will suit up for the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters Saturday night at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Ive been ridiculously lucky when it comes to my job and basketball. As a hoops junkie, I couldnt have asked for a better career than the one Ive had.

Ive been hanging around the NBA for almost 20 years now, and I never take for granted the opportunities and experiences Ive had.

Now, theres another memory:

Meeting Harlem Globetrotters icon Curly Neal, and getting to take on one of his players in a H-O-R-S-E competition on Monday at the Presidio YMCA in San Francisco.

If you dont know who Curly Neal is youre either not a basketball fan or youre under 30 years of age. Neal and the Globetrotters are world famous, and back in the day they were nothing short of a phenomena.

They played to sold-out houses, they were featured in cartoon and television series, they met presidents and first ladies and once they even played in front of an audience of one: the Pope. This weekend theyll be in the Bay Area for appearances at HP Pavilion, the Cow Palace and Haas Pavilion.

So, when Neal and current Trotter Wun The Shot Versher walked into the gym Monday, I cant tell you how pumped I was. But there was still a H-O-R-S-E game to win.

First things first, though, which was a trip down memory lane with Neal. He might be 67, but hes lost nothing when it comes to exuberance and positivity. You talk to Neal for five minutes and you realize how it was probably easy for him to entertain millions of fans over his 22-year Globetrotter playing career.

Neal talked fondly of his friendship with Warriors legend Alvin Attles, shared stories of playing in front of 42,000 in Manila and stated matter-of-factly that he could have played in the NBA. Of course, he spun a few balls on his fingers -- and head.

I had some jitters when it came to going up against Versher, who is 6-foot-5 and played at Arizona State. But once he agreed to a No Dunking rule, I knew that I had the window I needed.

You can watch what happened on the accompanying video -- the one Neal and Versher tried in vain to confiscate.

Never.

-- Matt Steinmetz