Scooter’s return: Harlem Globetrotters to play at the Civic Center on Monday night
Shane “Scooter” Christensen doesn’t remember much about playing basketball in Jamestown 11 years ago.
The former Magic City Snowbear — whose team played the Buffalo City Thunder in the now-defunct Midwestern Basketball League in 2003 — returns to the Civic Center on Monday night as part of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters.
After graduating from the University of Montana — where he led the Grizzlies to the NCAA tournament — Christensen and a couple teammates ventured to Minot to play for the Snowbears.
“It was so long ago, but that was really cool,” Christensen said. “I can remember playing games (at the Civic Center).”
In his ninth season with the Globetrotters, Christensen has played in 75 countries. The team is not to be confused with Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All-Stars, which played in Jamestown in 2011 and 2013.
The actual Globetrotters are returning after a 13-year absence.
“We play in high school gyms, NBA arenas — it doesn’t matter,” Christensen said. “Sometimes, with the smaller venues, the fans are right on top of you. That seems a little more personable. The fans can see you in action and see you in a better way.”
Prior to his current gig, Christensen found himself in multiple roles in 2005, while working for the Phoenix Suns. Among other duties, he was video coordinator and a practice player.
During a weekend pickup game, the Globetrotters were watching, with their eye on a different player. They left impressed with Christensen.
“They asked me to come to camp,” Christensen recalled. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought they were paying me for their competitive team. I couldn’t see myself doing tricks. But I showed them some tricks I could do with the ball — “Pistol” Pete Maravich was my inspiration as a kid. I caught on really fast.”
One of those tricks has developed into a world record. Christensen has the longest mark for spinning a ball on his nose at 5.1 seconds, which he set in front of a record adjudicator for the Guinness Book of World Records at the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend, breaking his own mark that he set in 2009.
The schedule can be grueling — it starts Dec. 26 and goes steady until late April. A break is followed by a European tour, meaning the Globetrotters are away from their families for six-to-eight months a year.
For Christensen, that means time away from his wife and 7-month-old daughter.
“It gets hard, but I met her on the road, so she’s used to it,” said Christensen, referring to his wife. “I was just so hungry (after college). Anything that came my way, I was gonna say yes to. I’ve been to 75 different countries in nine years. I never thought in a million years I’d get to see that many countries.
“It’s the perfect thing for me — doing something I love, which is playing ball. But also being known as an ambassador of goodwill. It becomes a little bit bigger than basketball.”
Doors open at 6 p.m., with the event starting at 7 p.m.
Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or firstname.lastname@example.org