New Globetrotters Show Offers More Than Trick Shots

The Harlem Globetrotters return to TV
(Image credit: Michael Malone)

Hearst Media Production Group offered the media a peek at Harlem Globetrotters: Play It Forward, which was screened with some Globetrotters in attendance at the Empire State Building in New York September 27. The show, hosted by Craig Robinson, who played Darryl in The Office, debuts Saturday, October 1. 

More than just trick basketball, Play it Forward focuses on the inspirations and interests of many of the Globetrotters, including space exploration, financial responsibility and urban farming. The educational/informational series is part of NBC’s The More You Know block. 

“Who doesn’t love the Harlem Globetrotters?” asked Bryan Curb, executive VP and general manager, Hearst Media Production Group. He called the team “ambassadors of goodwill” and “a perfect fit for our brand.”

The team has both men and women on it. Players in attendance at the Empire State Building included Latif “Jet” Rivers, Cherelle “Torch” George, Rock “Wham” Middleton, Jahmani “Hot Shot” Swanson, Donte “Hammer” Harrison and Brawley “Cheese Chisholm. 

The team website acknowledges Swanson’s “genetic condition of dwarfism.” Swanson refers to himself as “the Michael Jordan of dwarf basketball.”

Host Robinson was not at the event, but in a video spoke about the show "exploring ways to improve and empower the community." One segment in the pilot saw the team work on an Atlanta public basketball court whose surface had been painted by local artists. 

The Globetrotters were founded in 1926 as the Chicago Globetrotters, becoming the Harlem Globetrotters in 1929. There was a Harlem Globetrotters animated show on in the ‘70s. 

Curb referred to the players as “charming, charming people,” and “incredible human beings–and that’s what makes an incredible television show.” ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.