By John Benson
Rule makers have tinkered with sports so much over the years that a number of players have gained notoriety for being the first to accomplish a certain feat.
For instance, former professional player (and Boston Celtics Coach) Chris Ford was the first player to sink a 3-point shot in the NBA. Locally, Ohio State University alum and former Cleveland Browns player Tom Tupa was the first to score a two-point conversion in the NFL.
Then there’s Dizzy Grant, an eight-year veteran of the Harlem Globetrotters, who in 2010 was the first player to make a 35-foot 4-point shot, which is a dozen feet beyond the NBA 3-point shot. The Harlem Globetrotters use two 4-point mats on the court.
“That was in a game in Orlando, Florida, that was televised on ESPN,” Grant said. “We had just introduced the 4-point shot. It was our first game with it, and I had a shot in the first quarter. I ended up knocking it down. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal but the 4-point mat I made it from ended up going to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.”
He added, “It’s pretty cool to know it’s enshrined in the Hall of Fame.”
Since then, Grant, a 2005 College of New Jersey graduate who was first-team all-conference in his senior and junior seasons, has made quite a few 4-point shots.
Actually, this year’s Harlem Globetrotters’ “Fans Rule” World Tour, which comes to Youngstown’s Covelli Centre on Wednesday, will provide Grant and his teammates — Special K Daley, Big Easy Lofton, Flight Time Lang, Hi-Lite Bruton, TNT Maddox, T-Time Brawner and Sweet J Ekworomadu — plenty of opportunities to wow the audience. “We’re giving fans an opportunity to vote on what rules we play within the game,” Grant. “It’ll add a little bit more excitement. We did it last year and have some different rules this year.”
There’s the Hot Hand Jersey, where both teams can pass a jersey among each other. The player who is wearing this jersey will receive double points.
Another is Make or Miss with the quarter beginning with only two players on the court for each team. When a team scores, a teammate may enter the game. When they miss, the player missing the shot must leave the court, leaving his or her teammates shorthanded.
Finally, there’s Grant’s favorite, the Trick Shot Challenge. Each coach has three challenge flags where they can make the other team attempt a trick shot. If the team makes the trick shot, they earn five points. If they miss, the other team receives five points.
Grant stressed that the Harlem Globetrotters continue to be a worldwide attraction simply because you don’t have to be a fan of basketball to enjoy the show.