Globetrotters’ Zeus Makes Us Feel Like Kids Again










Globetrotters Bring Bag Of Tricks To The Bud

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,

Zeus McClurkin was born to be a Harlem Globetrotter, but there’s much more to this man than just razzle dazzle on the hardcourt. In fact, you could argue that he has earned his PhD in life’s lessons.

McClurkin, 32, born Julian McClurkin in Columbus, OH, joins his Globetrotters teammates at Budweiser Gardens on April 13. And despite the fact London fans know what to expect from this basketball-meets-circus show, the Globetrotters are still going strong 93 years after their founding in 1926.

Zeus McClurkin. Photo: Harlem Globetrotters.

In fact, the Globetrotters brand is stronger than ever, thanks to ingenious marketing and a huge social media following, but more importantly because of a time-tested formula relying on players like Zeus who act as global ambassadors and remind us what it’s like to be a kid.

“People never forget the way we make them feel,” said the six-foot-eight Zeus. “People bring their families to our games and they have a great time. If I’m walking around London and somebody recognizes my red, white and blue Harlem Globetrotters shirt, it immediately takes them back to a happy time in their life. This is what has kept us going for 93 years. We always leave a good feeling in a person’s heart.”

Zeus is a poster child for never giving up and staying true to yourself. As an all-around athlete living with exercise-induced asthma, he was cut from every team he tried out for, until Grade 10 following a five-inch growth spurt that summer. “All I know is that I drank a lot of milk that summer,” he said.

Following two seasons of NCAA Division II basketball, his head coach departed, leaving him without a spot. But Zeus never gave up, beating out 30 other hopefuls as he earned a spot as a walk-on with the North Carolina A&T State University Aggies in 2007.

Early in his career, coaches and teammates would tell Zeus that he was too nice to make it as a basketball player. “Players told me, ‘All you ever do is smile and dunk, man. You’ll never go to the next level.’ Now I get paid to smile and dunk. That’s a great inspirational story for kids,” he said. “Coaches sometimes try to make kids mean. But if that’s not your demeanor, don’t be that way. You can make it in this world being who you are.”

Zeus McClurkin. Photo: Harlem Globetrotters.

Zeus eventually earned an undergraduate degree in Business Management, then a master’s degree in Marketing and Communications. He’s also a minister at his local church. And when he’s not setting breaking Guinness Book of World Records benchmarks, he’s carrying on a 93-year tradition as a Globies ambassador.

“Our off-court impact is very important,” he said. “We have a community outreach program, go to schools to do anti-bullying rallies. And we have a program called Smile Patrol, go to children’s hospital rooms and try to put a smile on the kids’ faces.”

Abe Saperstein, elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971, was the founder, owner and original coach of the Globetrotters who have entertained more than 148 million fans in 123 countries. Today, the squad includes female basketball stars. Fan interaction is at an all-time high. Concurrent with their 250-city 2019 tour called, Fan Powered, the Globetrotters boast a higher engagement rate on Instagram @harlemglobetrotters than every NBA team except for the Los Angeles Lakers.

When the Globies visit the Bud, their opponents will once again be the Washington Generals, founded in 1952 after Saperstein encouraged Louis “Red” Klotz to form a squad to act as the Globetrotters’ competition. The Generals’ last win over the Globetrotters came in 1971.

Some of my favourite memories of the Globetrotters include watching the antics of legends Geese Ausbie, Meadowlark Lemon and Curly Neal. In the early-1980s, I was invited inside the Globetrotters’ dressing room at the London Gardens and sat courtside to get an up-close look behind the scenes. It remains a highlight of my career as a sports journalist.

Zeus interacting with fan Lilly. Photo: Harlem Globetrotters.

As for Zeus’s world records, they include most slam dunks in one minute (16), most bounced three-pointers in one minute (five), most blindfolded slam dunks in one minute (five) and most behind-the-back three-pointers in one minute (three).

“We give you a break from reality,” Zeus said of the Globetrotters’ magic. “You can come inside, leave that cold weather in London outside, and you don’t necessarily have to be a basketball fan to love the Globetrotters. Whether you’re a child or someone in their 70s, everyone has a smile on their face.”

Make no mistake, though: the Globetrotters are some of the most skilled basketball players on the planet.

Click here for a video promoting the Globetrotters.
Click here for a Globetrotters 1956 promotional video.
Click here for a televised Globetrotters show from 1978.

If You Go
Harlem Globetrotters
April 13 at Budweiser Gardens 2 p.m.
Tickets at
Magic Pass includes pre-game on-court fan interaction – more information at


Jeffrey Reed has been a member of the London sports media since 1980, and is publisher/editor of, and Have a story idea for Jeffrey? Reach him at

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and Sports journalist since 1980.

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