The world famous Harlem Globetrotters are returning to The Arena in Corbin on Jan. 23 and 18-year veteran Globetrotter Herbert “Flight Time” Lang will be among them.
The 6’3” Arkansas native is known as “Flight Time” because he was only 5’10” when he made his first dunk in a game during his high school days in Brinkley, Ark.
Lang said he has played multiple roles during his career with the Globetrotters, whether it is displaying his dunking abilities or as a master dribbler.
“I like to look at vintage videos of Globetrotters like Marques Haynes and Curly Neal, and I’ve played with some great ball handlers that have also taught me a lot,” Lang said.
“Usually we have specialists,” Lang said. “I’ve been kind of a utility man.”
Lang said the season begins in late November when the 30 Globetrotters come together at the organization’s home in Atlanta, Ga. to begin planning the shows in preparation for the first events on Christmas day.
The 30 members are divided into three different squads with a few “Globetrotters in Training,” added to fill out each squad.
Lang said there are familiar staples that are always incorporated into the show such as the buck of confetti that is tossed at an audience member and “stealing” a woman’s purse and getting her out onto the floor to dance.
“We try to keep it current by incorporating different dances and different music,” Lang said.
“We want to keep it fresh, but we want to keep some thing so parents can remember when they came to see us as kids,” Lang added.
One thing that has changed is the opponent.
In the past, the Globetrotters’ opposition has been the Washington Generals. However, the Generals have been retired and the Globetrotters will instead face the World All-Stars team.
“Those guys are good basketball players,” Lang said of the All-Stars adding that many Globetrotters have gotten their start playing for the opposition.
In their 91-year history, Globetrotters have played all over the world and in arenas of all sizes from NBA home courts to high school gymnasiums.
“I like playing in the smaller arenas because the fans are closer and are able to be more hands-on,” Lang said. “Plus, when you come to those smaller places, the fans really enjoy you being there.”
Lang said his time with the Globetrotters has been amazing not only on the court, but off the court for all of the places he has been and people he has met.
Lang said he has travelled to 90 different countries and all 50 states while on tour.
During Lang’s career, he said he has been to The White House twice to meet with President Barack Obama.
“The last time, in 2011, I had the chance to shoot hoops with him,” Lang said.
Lang has also met with Pope Francis at The Vatican in Rome and helped His Holiness to spin a basketball on his finger.
“That was probably the most nervous I have been in my 18 years with the Globetrotters,” Lang said of the meeting with the Pope.
As far as the best country, Lang said Australia was highly recommended by Globetrotter legends Sweet Lou Dunbar, Curly Neal and Gease Ausbie.
“Three years ago, I got to go to Australia and it was just incredible,” Lang said.
As to his favorite crowd to perform in front of, Lang said the fans from the Latin countries are amazing.
“There is something about the fans that they really love the show,” Lang said.
Lang has another claim to fame as a member of the Globetrotters. During his career, he has appeared on numerous television game and competition shows including: “The Price is Right,” “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” “Cupcake Wars,” Hell’s Kitchen,” “The Bachelorette, and, along with teammate Nate “Big Easy” Lofton, ran “The Amazing Race” three times.
The team finished second in the 2010 race.
Lang said one of the things that he really enjoys about being part of the Globetrotters is having the opportunity to meet and be around the Globetrotter legends he remembers as a child.
There have been more than 600 players suit up for the team in their history. Sweet Lou Dunbar, who played for the Globetrotters in the 70s, served as the teams coach and is currently with the organization as director of player personnel.
Gease Ausbie, who played for the team between 1961 and 1985, will have his number retired during the current tour.
“The Globetrotters are a proud alumni organization,” Lang said. “Many of the guys that we remember as kids are still around and have been able to give us knowledge.”
Lang said when he first joined the team, he thought if he played for three to five years, he would be happy.
“Before I knew it, I had been a Globetrotter for 10 years,” Lang said. “If I could do it for 20 years, that would be great.”
Lang said even after his playing days are over, he hopes to continue with the team in some capacity.
“I would love to be an assistant coach,” Lang said. “If not with the Globetrotters, I want to be coaching somewhere.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Tickets prices at $13.50 to $40 and are available at The Arena box office or online at ticketmaster.com.