Harlem Globetrotters dribble into the Glass Enclosed Nerve Center at WTOP

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Globetrotters in DC (Jason Fraley)

WASHINGTON — Could you sink a half-court shot from the catwalk of a basketball arena?

That’s what Zeus of the Harlem Globetrotters did earlier this week at Capitol One Arena.

“That was the highest catwalk shot I’ve ever done,” Zeus told WTOP. “I went to the top of the catwalk at Capitol One Arena, then there was another catwalk [above] the catwalk that they ended up having me go up to. Even my cameraman was scared to go up with me, but I went up there and knocked it down. … It’s never taken me more than 30 shots to hit a trick shot.”

You can see similar tricks as the Globetrotters play the Washington Generals at Capitol One Arena at 12 p.m. Saturday and Eagle Bank Arena at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

“The Globetrotters have been around for the last 93 years,” Zeus said. “You’ll see a lot of the same things like highflying slam dunks, half-court tricks shots and crowd participation. Aside from that, we try to add something new every single year. This year, we have something called the four-point line, which is about 30 feet away from the basket. It’s been amazing.”

Such innovations are so exciting that some have been adopted by the NBA.

“We invented the slam dunk, the three-point line and the alley-oop,” Zeus said. “All of the amazing things that you see in the NBA now, the Globetrotters are the innovators of.”

Not only did they change the rules of basketball, they changed the rules of society.

“Before we came around, the game of basketball wasn’t integrated; women weren’t playing the game,” Zeus said. “We started in 1926 when African Americans weren’t allowed to play in the NBA. We would go around the city of Chicago barnstorming, playing anybody who wanted to play us for money. We were making a name for ourselves because we were undefeated.”

The Globetrotters were so dominant that they had to find clever ways to entertain the fans.

“We were beating teams by so much that they would walk out,” Zeus said. “This is when you’d see us bring a bucket of confetti to a game … pulling someone’s pants down during a game, getting people involved, spinning a ball on their finger, doing these things that people have come to love us for over time. That’s what’s kept the Globetrotters around for 93 years.”

After nearly a century of entertainment, it’s become a global phenomenon.

“We have become ambassadors of good will because of what we stand for,” Zeus said. “We can take this product all over the world — and we have. We’ve been to 123 countries and provinces around the world. We’ve brought the game of basketball to people who would have never seen it before. This is why you look at the NBA now and see so many different cultures.”

How did Zeus himself start throwing up trick shots?

“When I was younger, I wasn’t very good in basketball,” Zeus said. “I didn’t make my first team until the 11th grade. I got cut from sixth grade all the way to tenth grade. What they don’t tell you about [Michael Jordan] was that he was averaging 25 points on JV. I got cut from both!”

Now, he’s filming similar commercials as Jordan’s famous “nothing but net” ads.

“I get a chance to do those now,” Zeus said. “I played ‘H-O-R-S-E’ with Jason Smith of The Wizards. Me and him played and we were kind of referencing M.J. and Larry Bird in those commercials. It was a lot of fun doing that. I won, by the way. I don’t think I got a letter, did I? I maybe got a letter on a short jump shot. But he hadn’t lost in a long time, so I felt really good.”

What’s his bread and butter? Underhand from downtown.

“Half-court shots,” Zeus smiled. “Grannies!”

Find tickets on the Globetrotters’ website. Listen to our full chat with Zeus below:

WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with Zeus of The Globetrotters (Full Interview) (Jason Fraley)

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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