Exceptional basketball ability, people skills and a sense of humor are three essentials when it comes to being a Harlem Globetrotter.
Aundre "Hot Shot" Branch has all three. The flamboyant Baylor University alum connects with crowds, is funny and has mad basketball skills.
"I can play the game of basketball, but it's more than that if you're going to be a Globetrotter," Branch said. "You have to be the total package."
Playing with the team can be hard work, but it's also fun, he said.
"It's the greatest job you could ever have," he said. "I get to play the game that I love in front of big, friendly crowds all over the place. I can't imagine doing anything else."
You always know you're going to experience some basketball trickery, some big slam dunks and a victory over the Washington Generals when the Globetrotters do battle on the court. But there are always unpredictable gags and plays.
"Every game is a little different," Branch said. "It would be dull if every time we went out there it was the same. That makes it fun for us and the people who come out. We play basketball but we add some spice to the game."
The Globetrotters aren't just entertainers in gym shorts. Branch and his teammates can play ball.
"I don't know if everyone is aware that we can do it out there," he said.
It takes only a few minutes at a game to see that the Globetrotters are elite hoopsters. Many of the players, including Branch, excelled at college ball. Branch had a distinguished career at Baylor; he is the sixth-leading scorer in school history and holds the Baylor Bears record for three-point baskets.
However, it wasn't a slam dunk for Branch to become a Globetrotter.
"I didn't just hand in a video of what I did in school and they handed me the job," Branch said. "This is not the easiest gig in the world to get. I had to work for it."
Branch made it through three mini-camps in 2001 before being tabbed for the traveling hoops show. He loves to play ball, but his favorite part of the job is connecting with the kids during and after games.
"I love signing autographs after we play," Branch said. "I love to hear what the kids have to say. Being around the children is a huge reason this is the greatest job in the world."