Harlem Globetrotters continue to rewrite the rules

The Harlem Globetrotters, who visit Wichita annually to show off their ball-handling skills and comedic on-court antics, stop at Intrust Bank Arena with their 2013 “You Write the Rules” world tour.

Up until the start of the show at 7 p.m., fans will be able to go online to www.harlemglobetrotters.com and vote on a list of “rules” that will be implemented for the game. Among the choices: double points, a penalty box, 6-on-5 play and the use of two game balls at once.

The rule changes keep the players guessing, said Wun “The Shot” Versher, who has been playing with the Globetrotters for the past 18 years.

“Using two balls is OK and all, but my favorite is the 6-on-5,” Versher said. “We’ve been playing for 87 years, and fans expect us to win. The 6-on-5 is a way that we can show we aren’t just ball handlers and entertainers, but we can also play the game. It’s a challenge.”

But the Globetrotters, whose members over the years have included greats such as Wilt Chamberlain, Meadowlark Lemon and Wichita’s Lynette Woodard, are about more than just eye-catching ball handling and trick shots, Versher said.

Over the last several years, the Globetrotters have started many public service initiatives aimed at the youth in the cities they visit. Team members have been making visits around Wichita all week.

“The Globetrotters aren’t just here to entertain, Versher said. “We like to make an impact.”

One of the teams’ programs is called “The ABCs of Bullying Prevention,” which Versher presented to youths at McConnell Air Force Base on Monday.

“The ABCs are Action, Bravery and Compassion,” Versher said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a witness to it, a victim of it, or somebody who used to be a bully. We find that those three areas can help in all situations and empower youth to stand up.”

In addition to the visit at McConnell, Versher also toured the children’s center at Wesley Medical Center as a representative of the Globetrotters’ “Smile Patrol.” Several of the children seemed a bit intimidated by the 6-foot-5 Versher, but he quickly broke the ice by demonstrating some ball handling skills and autographing a team picture for each child.

“Yes, we play ball and can entertain crowds, but this is what it’s all about to me,” he said. “There’s always that one child who just tugs at you a little bit; who you keep thinking about when you leave. When we play on the court, we’re playing for them even if they can’t be there. They’re the motivation.”