Image courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters and Brett Meister
On April 16th, the World Famous Harlem Globetrotters return to the La Crosse Center for an evening of high-flying basketball acrobatics. I had the chance to speak with forward Dragon Taylor, and while the conversation centered on his Globetrotter career, we also touched on other areas including his switch from football to basketball, Guinness World Record Day, and his passion for motorcycling.
Adam: You weren’t always destined for the hardwood, were you? I believe you had football aspirations first, right?
Dragon: Yeah, you know a lot of my family members played football so it’s probably embedded in me. I love football a lot, of course I’m a big Chicago Bears fan…probably shouldn’t say that around here…
A: You’re fine. It’s a pretty inclusive environment here in the studio.
D: I love being a part of the Globetrotter history, I get a chance to travel the world, I’ve been to 52 countries, and I realize that basketball is my destiny. I have a 45-inch vertical and I get a chance to display my talents, we play here April 16th at the La Crosse Center and I get a chance to show them what I’m all about.
A: Did you figure out your path when you were at Northern Michigan? Was that sort of when the change started to happen?
D: Umm, maybe more like when I was in seventh, eighth grade, which was when I did my first dunk. My first dunk was actually, someone threw it off the backboard, and I slammed it pretty hard. I was pretty much just playing local basketball in the neighborhood, and I discovered I was pretty talented at basketball as well, which has brought me to be a part of the Harlem Globetrotters.
A: You were in the NBA’s G-League for awhile. What are some of the difference between playing there and doing what you do now?
D: Well, the preparation is pretty much the same. As far as with the Globetrotters, when you go into a tryout, there’s a genuine 5-on-5, no tricks involved. You show your best talent on the court and that’s how they recruit you. Also, you have to that personality, like you have to be able to interact with people. But the preparation is pretty much the same, and we actually had a few [G-League] players that got involved to play with the Globetrotters. I’ve been with the Globetrotters for six years, and the similarities are the same. One thing with the Globetrotters, I love being able to interact with the fans, and make memories. And I get to travel the world at someone else’s expense.
A: And the personality factor, that’s something I’d think would be a major difference between the two. When you tried out, what would they do to try and gauge your personality level?
D: They want you to express yourself, just be yourself. Kind of like when you’re home with your family, and you do some goofy things, but when you get out in the world you may be quiet. You quickly learn you can express your personality everywhere, and most importantly it’s all about having fun. That’s one thing I love about this, is that I get to express myself and have fun every day.
A: You’re from Chicago, which is where the Globetrotters got their start as a barnstorming franchise in the 1920’s. How familiar were you with the Globetrotters history growing up?
D: Yeah, absolutely! One of the questions I get asked all the time is “Are you from Harlem?”. But the name Harlem came about because back then, Harlem was the center of African American culture. So the owner, a man named Abe Saperstein picked the name Harlem, because it had more mystique, and “Globetrotters” because he wanted people to think they travelled the globe, and at the time they only went between Chicago and Iowa. And now we’ve travelled to 123 countries and territories.
A: And of course one of the team’s more notable moments was defeating George Mikan’s Minneapolis Lakers, which no one at the time saw coming.
D: Yep, and the history goes on. You know we broke the gender barrier with the first female Globetrotter named Lynette Woodard in 1985. We also had the first African American to be drafted into the NBA by the name of Nate “Sweetwater” Clifton, and the legacy lives on.
A: “Torch” George is one of the women on the team right now, and was actually a part of World Record Day last year. I think she was one of four or five Globetrotters to set a record that day.
D: Oh yeah, there was quite a few that did it. I mean we break SO many world records, we currently have 22 world records, and Torch did that SO easy. I mean she certainly worked at it, but she’s so talented, one of our best players. We have a four-point shot that’s 30 feet from the basket, and she just rains it every night.
A: Speaking of that four-point shot, let’s say you’re someone like myself, who hasn’t seen a Globetrotters’ game since 2002. What differences could I expect for the 2019 tour?
D: Well some things stay similar, like they say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But this year is our 2019 Fan Powered Tour, so we implement the fans a LOT more during the show. I can’t spill the beans on anything new, but of course the focus of the show is on a lot of high-flying dunks and a lot of amazing trick shots. At a show you get to see all that we have to offer. Plus we play basketball, too!
A: No way!
A: Beyond the Globetrotters, you also have a passion for motorcycling. Your ride is called “The Dark Knight”, which is a great choice since that’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.
D: Me too, that’s why I named it that.
A: But is it black, and is it a Harley?
D: Well, no it’s not a Harley..BUT, I’m going to get a Harley. I would love to get a Street Glide.
A: Well you’re in the right state to buy one!
D: Yeah, that’s what I heard! I have two motorcycles, I have a Kawasaki ZX14 and a 1980 Yamaha, and I love being able to ride and feel the Florida weather where I live now. I just love being able to ride free. Like you know, I’m from Chicago, but I love to be able to ride year-round when I get home.
A: What’s the best trip you’ve ever taken?
D: I went to Key West, it’s a nice trip. One thing that I really love is right after these rides is hopping right back on the road and playing these games. It’s just amazing to be able to take a mini break and then going right back to making memories for people.
To make your own Globetrotter memories, check them out at the La Crosse Center April 16th. Tickets can be bought at : https://www1.ticketmaster.com/event/070055489D2C37F8