By Kevin Kleps
We were billed as the Lake County All-Stars.
None of us, however, could compare to “Memphis” Michael Douglas, who puts the show in the Harlem Legends and keeps smiles on the faces of all who attend events at which his team plays.
I was asked to represent The News-Herald in Saturday’s game at Mentor High School, an event that raised funds for the Society of Rehabilitation.
There were 19 of us on the All-Stars, a group that was headlined by state Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township. There were notable area businessmen, a well-known prep football coach (Mentor’s Steve Trivisonno) and guys like me — someone who was all too happy for play for a good cause, knowing full well no one would be paying to see me shoot a basketball (which I used to think I could do quite well, though if you saw me Saturday, you will beg to differ).
We were matched up with the Legends, whose website says is a club consisting of former Harlem Globetrotters, NBA and NFL players, along with past Olympians and pro athletes.
The Legends were there to provide the show.
The Lake County All-Stars were there to play the role of the Washington Generals — the team that always assumed the role of the Los Angeles Clippers (pre-Blake Griffin) to the Globetrotters’ Lakers.
There were four 10-minute quarters, officiated by “referees” who were part of the Legends’ traveling band of characters.
We found out early on that we weren’t exactly expected to play defense — a point that was driven home to me when I “ruined” a fast-break attempt by talented Legends guard Brandon McDonald. I tried to strip McDonald on a drive to the basket, and it worked, though I probably fouled him in the process (good thing the fake official didn’t see it).
The next time down the floor, McDonald waited for me to be matched up with him, then blew by me on his way to the basket.
At that point, we had received the memo.
No one was there to watch a group who had never played together and couldn’t block a dunk attempt with a stepladder clumsily foul a team that is paid to throw alley-oops, no-look passes and buckets of confetti on unexpecting parents and children.
Douglas, who played for the Harlem Globetrotters from 1986 to ’93, was the MC, the comedian, the actor and the person the packed house at Mentor likely will remember for years to come.
As much as us All-Stars might have objected, they kept score, and the Legends didn’t try to keep it close.
We struggled to hit shots, despite an early 3-pointer from Trivisonno, but never struggled to laugh at our role in the event.
The United Way of Lake County, Mentor Schools, the city’s recreation department and the Society for Rehabilitation did an excellent job putting the event together.
There weren’t many empty seats.
And there weren’t many who came away from the game unimpressed.
It was for a good cause.
Thanks to the Legends, it was a great show.
Thanks to the All-Stars, there was a team present to get dunked on and have passes thrown between our legs by one former Globetrotter to another.
— Click here
for The News-Herald’s story and videos from Saturday night.
— For more information on “Memphis” Michael Douglas and the Harlem Legends, click here