The whistling of “Sweet Georgia Brown,” basketball tricks that play with the eye and a spinning ball at the tip of his finger are all things that Harlem Globetrotter Slick Willie Shaw says he’s blessed to be a part of and represent.
Shaw is coming to Portales with the world famous Harlem Globetrotters Tuesday as part of their “You Write the Rules” tour, an event that’s dictated by the fans deciding a new rule the team should play by.
Shaw has been with the team for nine years. The Bronx native was a four-year starter at St. John’s University in New York and was recruited to play for the Globetrotters while playing an all-star game in Las Vegas.
Shaw says he’s traveled to more than 70 countries, adding there’s no place he won’t go to put on a great show and create memories that will last a lifetime.
He talked about his journey as a Globetrotter and his love for the game:
When was the moment you fell in love with basketball?
I was 6 years old and I used to beg my grandma to go to the park. I’d just play basketball all day, as soon as I got out of school. It’s been my love since age 6 until now.
When did you attend your first Globetrotter’s game? What was that experience like?
It was a beautiful thing. I had never seen a game, so the first game I ever played was at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, a place that holds such a rich basketball tradition. So many celebrities were there, like Dr. Dre, Al Pacino, Pamela Anderson.
Did you have any idea that you’d be playing for the team?
Ever since I was 6 I wanted to play professional sports. The Harlem Globetrotters granted me that opportunity nine years ago. I’m living a dream. The game lasts four quarters, but memories last a lifetime.
When did you sink your first 4-point shot (a shot 35 feet away from the basket)?
I made my first one in the first game that we played. It felt real good because it’s something new that’s added, it’s a difficult shot and the crowd reaction was great. They really loved the four-point shot and they got to see how difficult it is and they gave off great energy.
Name your top three basketball players of all time?
1. Michael Jordan
2. Isaiah Thomas
3. Kobe Bryant
Of the many places you’ve visited as a Globetrotter, which one was most memorable and why?
The Roman Coliseum because that’s something that you study growing up in school and next thing you know I’m standing outside of the coliseum. Not in a million years, I never thought I’d be standing there. I’ll also never forget the Great Wall of China because it’s one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s a blessing in itself it’s a beautiful thing to see. I’m just a kid from the Bronx, New York and every moment is a great experience.
How about the people you’ve met, who were some of the most unforgettable people or fans you’ve met while touring the globe?
Al Pacino because that’s one of my favorite actors. For him to be at a game it’s like wow, it’s Al Pacino.
I also remember one game, this kid came up to me while I was spinning the ball on my finger and said, “this is the greatest moment of my life.” For me to be a part of such a positive moment is a beautiful thing.
What’s the best part about being on the team?
Just doing what I love to do, entertaining people, being a part of those positive memories of someone’s life.
How’d you get the name “Slick Willie”?
They call me Slick Willie because I do slick tricks on the basketball court and I slick by my defender on the court.
Who has served as your greatest inspiration since playing the game?
My mom, she’s a hard working woman taking care of two kids in a single household. My hard work and my will to win comes from her. She set that foundation for me. All I know is to work hard.