Point Guard Turned Pro: Globetrotter still loves life in basketball

Point Guard Turned Pro: Globetrotter still loves life in basketball
BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com

Shane “Scooter” Christensen seems to have been born to be a Harlem Globetrotter. Growing up in Las Vegas, he was 13 when he saw a movie about legendary shooting guard “Pistol” Pete Maravich and fell in love with basketball.

Maravich, according to the documentary, not only played to win, he played to entertain, known for passing behind his back, between his legs and over his head. He was a consummate ball handler because he spent hours and days and weeks working at it. As a reporter writing for Christensen’s alma mater, the University of Montana, mused:

“Maybe being able to spin a basketball on his finger, throw it in the air, bounce it off both knees, head it like a soccer ball, then catch it while it continued to spin would pay off for Shane somewhere down the line.”

It did. A point guard in college, Christensen led his Grizzlies to a Big Sky Conference regular-season title in 2000 and a Big Sky tournament title in 2002, which earned them a berth in the NCAA Tournament. He was captain of the team his junior and senior years and racked up 431 assists over his career — a testament to that ball handling. He also earned a degree in sociology, graduating in 2002.

Shane “Scooter” Christensen led his Montana Grizzlies to a Big Sky Conference regular-season title in 2000 and a Big Sky tournament title in 2002, which earned them a berth in the NCAA Tournament. He was captain of the team his junior and senior years and racked up 431 assists over his career — a testament to the ball handling that makes him a perfect Harlem Globetrotter.
(Courtesy Photo/Harlem Globetrotters)

But NBA success was harder to come by. After playing on an International Basketball Association team and for the Las Vegas Rattlers, an American Basketball Association team, he earned a trip to camp with the Phoenix Suns — but he didn’t make the cut. He was, however, hired by the team as “the video guy.” Not thrilled, he counted the blessings of getting to practice with one of his idols, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash; he kept up his skills; and one day, he got to step into a practice game — where he wowed players and coaches alike. It was at a Suns scrimmage that he was spotted by a scout for the Harlem Globetrotters.

That was 17 years ago. Christensen is 42 — making his career in pro basketball as long as that of LeBron James. He’s traveled to all 50 states and 85 countries — “and when I started, I had never even been to New York,” he marvels — he’s got children ages 7, 5 and 3, and he can’t say enough good things about his wife, Jessica, whom he describes as a “single mom” while he is on the road for five to seven months at a time.

Of course, the pandemic gave Christensen a much clearer idea of what daily life was like at home. He was quarantined with Jessica and the kids at his parents’ house.

“I have an amazing wife,” he says, awe in his voice. “She works just as hard if not harder than what I have to do. I loved and appreciated her before, but so much more now. God couldn’t have given me a better partner and soulmate.”

For months, Christensen says, he waited and hope for the phone to ring with an assignment to play ball — and when it finally did, it was for a summerlong engagement at Silver Dollar City. It’s the Globetrotters’ first public gig since the covid-19 shutdown, and he couldn’t be happier. It’s not full-on games, he explains, but more of a skills showcase, with five players in residence at the theme park through Aug. 8. But he and his teammates are happy just to be dunking and dribbling, giving audiences a taste of their talent and “trying to make it fun for the kids.”

Being a Globetrotter is all about making the audience smile, Christensen says, and it’s all done by delivering the good, clean fun make famous by Curly Neal and Meadowlark Lemon. Sometimes in practice, he says, teammates get too competitive — because that never changes, he says — and have to remind themselves “what an honor and a blessing it is to be part of this organization where the people that came before you changed the world.”


FAQ

Harlem Globetrotters

WHEN — Through Aug. 8

WHERE — Silver Dollar City in Branson

COST — Tickets for ages 12-64 start at $74

INFO — silverdollarcity.com

Categories: Family Friendly