Interview with a Harlem Globetrotter, 2009
Andre "Hot Shot" Branch is in his seventh season with the Harlem Globetrotters, a world-famous basketball team that has shown off its athleticism and comedic skills every New Year's Eve in Milwaukee for 40 years.
The Harlem Globetrotters will play at the Bradley Center on Dec. 31 at 1 and 6 p.m. Tickets range from $28.80 to $131.10.
Branch, who is a guard, got his start playing basketball at Baylor University in Texas. While there, he broke the record for the most three-pointers made during a career. Also, he was a two-time all-conference selection at Baylor. Branch graduated with a degree in communications and went on to play basketball overseas before joining the Harlem Globetrotters.
Branch says the Globetrotters are a great fit for him because it combines his love for basketball with his passion for working with kids. Branch travels around the country and presents the Globetrotter's "CHEER for Character" program that extolls the benefit of being a good person. He is also involved with an organization called Project Hoops.
Recently, OnMilwaukee.com talked to Branch about his life as a Harlem Globetrotter.
OnMilwaukee.com: What does it take to be a Harlem Globetrotter?
Andre "Hot Shot" Branch: Globetrotters demonstrate great athleticism. Some of us can jump really high or handle the ball masterfully, but I can shoot the ball. That's what I bring: the shooting.
You need a lot of personality in general to be a Globetrotter, both on the court and off. The Globetrotters are a lot of fun on the court, but we are all advanced ambassadors, too. This means we go out into the community -- to schools and hospitals -- and work with kids.
OMC: What kinds of jokes do you perform on the court?
AB: Lots of interactive skits. We keep it very clean, nothing disrespectful, fun for the whole family. We just want to put a smile on kids' and adults' faces. The water bucket gag is the one everyone remembers, but you have to come to the show to find out more about this.
OMC: How many Globetrotters are on the team? How many games a year do you play?
AB: There are 28 players and we play well over 300 games a year.
OMC: Where do you live permanently? Do you have a family?
AB: I live in Houston when I am not traveling and I have three kids.
OMC: This will be your seventh time in Milwaukee for New Year's Eve. What do you think of Milwaukee?
AB: Well, because we always come to Milwaukee on New Year's Eve, it's always cold, but we love that arena. It's filled with so many warm bodies and smiling faces. For the Globetrotters, New Year's Eve in Milwaukee is a tradition.
OMC: How old are you and how many more years do you think you have as a Globetrotter?
AB: I am 36, and I think I still have a long career ahead of me because I do what I need to do to stay in shape. I keep my body fit and I work very hard. This is a big part of my message to kids. I didn't get here just because I'm good at playing basketball. There is no easy route to a successful career. It's one thing to have dreams and ambitions, but another to really succeed. I had to pay my dues.
But the most important aspect of success is education. You have to take education very seriously. I tell the kids to "go extreme with education" because what you put in now will determine the long-term strength of your brain. You'll never regret it. And on top of all that, you have to be a good person and do the right thing.
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