When Aundre "Hot Shot" Branch took a jumper on the roof of Philadelphia's Spectrum 10 months ago, it didn't faze the charismatic Harlem Globetrotter. It was no big deal for the Baylor University alum to play basketball on top of an arena.
"We're the Globetrotters," Branch said while calling from San Antonio. "We do things differently. If you look at the history of the Harlem Globetrotters, it's always been we'll play anytime, anywhere. Nobody does it like us."
The Globetrotters have been playing basketball for 84 years, but no squad has ever played roundball with such verve, joy and humor.
Amusing banter with the crowd, trickery and unpredictability are some of the reasons to catch the Globetrotters, who will play tonight at Intrust Bank Arena.
"The name of the game is fun when you come out to see us," Branch said. "We add some spice to the game of basketball."
Every game is different because the Globetrotters select fans to come down to the court for off-the-wall activities.
"You never know what someone from the crowd will do in any given situation," Branch said. "That's not just great for the audience but it's also great for us. It keeps things fresh. You never know what the Globetrotters will do when we hit the court."
Make no mistake about it. The Globetrotters can play basketball. Branch, who had a pretty distinguished career at Baylor, had to make it through three mini-camps in 2001 before being tapped for the traveling hoops circus.
"There's no doubt that you have to be able to play the game," Branch said. "That's what the Globetrotters look for."
Branch is the sixth-leading scorer in Baylor history and holds the Baylor Bears' record for three-point baskets.
"I showed them I could play ball and then they taught me all of the showmanship," Branch said. "It's an unbeatable combination."
Unlike many pro athletes, the Globetrotters are approachable. Each member of the team signs autographs after each game and answers fan e-mails.
"The kids love it and so do we," Branch said. "It's fun for all of us. I know what it's like to be one of those kids. When I was growing up in Houston, I was one of those kids, who saw the Globetrotters every year when they came to town. Now I love going from town to town."
Branch, who grew up a Houston Rockets fan, is looking forward to returning to Wichita since he coached Wichita State's Toure Murry, while rehabbing a knee injury in Houston four-years ago.
"Toure is a great kid," Branch said. "I really enjoyed working with him. We still talk. He asks for pointers. I'm glad to see he's doing so well. You can have some fun watching basketball in Wichita. You can see me and the Globetrotters and you can see Toure and Wichita State. That's pretty cool."
If you go>
Where: Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman
When: 7 p.m. today
How much: Tickets are $17, $25, $40, $60 and $80 at Select-a-Seat outlets or by phone at 316-755-7328.