Harlem Legends display skills to Rotarians

The Harlem Legends’ Michael Douglas taunted some of the local celebrity players about Friday’s upcoming charity basketball game, which he believes will be a certain Legends win.

Douglas visited the Buckhannon Rotary Club meeting Tuesday where he got to show off some of his basketball flair with some well-practiced ball-handling tricks.

The game will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 5 at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Bicentennial Motel and the Rock Cave IGA. Advanced tickets are $7 for youth and $10 for adults, or $13 at the door. Those interested may also contact the local coordinator, Jody Light, at 304-472-3033 or B-UHS Athletic Director Randall Roy at 304-472-3720 for game tickets and information. The game is a fund-raiser for the B-UHS athletic department, Light said.

“We have the show choreographed. We know who’s going to win,” Douglas said. “We haven’t lost a game since Lassie was a puppy. It’s been a while.”

Douglas and other Legends will square off against a team of local celebrity all-stars, including Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Scott Lampinen, Kelley Motors’ owner Marty Kelley, Buckhannon Fire Chief Mitch Tacy, Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory, West Virginia state trooper Kenny Short and Susan O’Dell with Upshur County Special Olympics.

Douglas said the Upshur County All-Stars may score 10 or 12 points, but he thinks the Harlem Legends will be victorious. He said his teammates are the world’s greatest ballhandlers, and they have played and won more than 24,000 games while traveling the world.

The Upshur County All-Stars still seem confident they have a chance to win.

“It’s not a sure thing yet,” Kelley said.

No matter who wins or loses, Douglas said it will be a fun game.

“It doesn’t have to be great basketball players, because it’s going to be fun and entertaining,” he said.

As a Harlem Globetrotter from 1986 to 1993, Douglas said he has met the Pope and Mother Teresa as he traveled with his team to as many as 100 different countries. Douglas said he was fortunate to be the first pick of three team members in the 1986 tryouts where about 1,500 aspiring Globetrotters competed for their chance to make the team.

After leaving the Harlem Globetrotters, he formed the Michael Douglas Youth Foundation and organized a group of former teammates to form the Harlem Legends. The Harlem Legends are a group of former Globetrotters, NBA players and other professionals who present various activities like a youth basketball camp open to up to 100 boys and girls, ages 7 to 14.

“It’s going to be a fun and entertaining week for all,” Douglas said about the camp. “I personally travel to over 100 schools each year as a motivational speaker, trying to encourage, uplift, educate and entertain along the way.”

At the youth basketball camp that is set to take place April 1-5 at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, the Harlem Legends will teach the basics of basketball, including some handling tricks, to the students.

That’s not all the team will teach to the participating students.

Douglas said the students also will learn about great team play, camaraderie, social issues, overcoming obstacles, bullying and “dreaming dreams.”

“We try to tie all of that in in one week, and hopefully, all of the kids will get something positive out of the camp and learn a little basketball at the same time,” Douglas said. “We figured we can reach the kids young and try to help them, instill in them great work ethics at an early age. I figure it’s easier to train a child than try to change a man.”

Those who are in the Upshur County area may spot a couple of the Harlem Legend players this week.

“I’m going to be around all week. Another player will be coming in shortly, Larry ‘Shorty’ Coleman. We’re going to just be around town, so you might see us anywhere,” Douglas said.

Contact Melissa Toothman by email at mtoothman@theintermountain.com