Former Marshall hoopster returns with Globetrotters
WANT TO GO?
The Harlem Globetrotters
Where: Charleston Civic Center
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $18 to $98
Into: 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com
Note: The Globetrotters also play at Huntington's Big Sandy Superstore Arena at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Marshall basketball fans might see a familiar face on the court with the Harlem Globetrotters when the team's in West Virginia this week.
Former Herd basketball player Jonathan "Hawk" Thomas returns with the team Tuesday and Wednesday for shows at the Charleston Civic Center and Huntington's Big Sandy Superstore Arena. Thomas, a 2010 transfer from North Carolina State University, played for Marshall during the 2010-11 season, before graduating with a degree in sports management.
"I really enjoyed playing for Marshall," he said. "It's a great atmosphere and the fans are just crazy. They love the game of basketball."
Thomas loved it, too. After he left Marshall, he stayed in the game, playing for independent leagues and overseas in Germany.
He wasn't happy, though.
"I started losing my love of basketball," he said.
A friend on the Globetrotters invited him to try out for the team. It just sounded like a better way for him to play basketball.
"Ever since then, I've tried to take every opportunity the Globetrotters have provided me with and really show them what I can do."
Now in his second year with the team, Thomas said he really feels like he's come along as a Globetrotter.
"Our focus is making fans happy," he said. "So, no matter what I do, if I come out and I entertain and I make the fans happy, I had a great day."
The relationship between the fans and the Globetrotters is different than with other basketball clubs.
"I met a lady not too long ago who was telling me her son had just passed away," Thomas said. "She told me it meant so much for her and her family just to come out, see us, get excited, laugh and have some fun for a while.
"It brought tears to my eyes."
The fans, he said, really are the best part, but traveling the world isn't so bad, either. The Harlem Globetrotters are called globetrotters for a reason.
"I'm just getting in from Paris," he said. "It was great. I had a really good time out there. We saw some great fans, and I really enjoyed it. I had an opportunity to visit some of the sights: the Arc de Triomphe, The Eiffel Tower — all of that."
During his stay in France, the team went out as a group, and when they go out together, they often go out wearing their performance suits or track clothes. The Globetrotters are easily recognized.
"Tons of people came up to me, asking if they could take their picture with me," he said. "I don't know French. So, a lot of it was 'Photo? Photo? Photo?'
"It was just a great experience."
Thomas said he looks forward to getting back to Huntington. Already, a few old acquaintances and friends in the area have reached out. He'd love to hear from a few more.
"I'd love to connect with them," he said. "Maybe see them at the game."
Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5195.