Globetrotter Anthony ‘Buckets’ Blakes enjoys taking and hitting the big shot. COURTESY PHOTO

‘Buckets’ thrills as marksman, showman

Harlem Globetrotters return with World Tour high jinks

A master of trick shots, Harlem Globetrotter Anthony “Buckets” Blakes recently sank the highest basketball shot ever recorded in North America.

From atop the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas – a 583-foot, 8-inch launch and drop.

The ball landed at the bottom of the net below on just his second attempt, an epic shot from the stratosphere that went viral, making Blakes an internationally recognized star On World Trick Shot Day (Dec. 6).

“I was excited. It was pretty awesome,” said the 6-foot-2 Blakes, who has amazed worldwide audiences with his ball wizardry as a Globetrotter in his 15th season. “I put some backspin on the ball. It’s almost like physics is involved, and I don’t know much about physics. My degree is in psychology.

“But I had the confidence to knock the shot down. I feel I can make any shot.”

So how about a shot from atop the 605-foot Space Needle when the Globetrotters come to the Seattle area next weekend?

“That might be the next thing for me. That might be my next goal,” Blakes said. “But, for now, I’m going to let that shot ride out a little bit and see what comes next.”

Blakes will showcase his trick shots and other skills when the Globetrotters’ World Tour visits the ShoWare Center in Kent for 7 p.m. performances on Friday, Feb. 17 and Monday, Feb. 20. Between are appearances at Seattle’s KeyArena on Saturday and Everett’s Xfinity Arena on Sunday.

This season marks the iconic team’s 91st season touring the world.

To keep the act fresh and intriguing, Blakes and his teammates will shoot from the game’s first 4-point line, 30 feet from the basket and 6 feet, 3 inches beyond the NBA’s 3-point boundary. There will be other trick shots, dazzling dribbling, passing and dunking and many antics.

It’s all part of the Harlem Globetrotters’ campaign, The Great Assist, which vows to spread acts of kindness and goodwill. Launched in October 2015, the initiative pledges to create 100 million smiles over the course of a decade.

Blakes is enjoying his role with the team – an entertaining and rewarding job that combines marksmanship and showmanship.

“I love how we are kind of like chameleons. We adapt to what’s going on during a game with the crowd,” said Blakes, who holds the Guinness World Records record for the most underhanded, half-court shots in one minute, dropping six – one more than the previous record. He actually made the six shots in just 46 seconds.

“If something unexpected happens, we try to carry it over to the next game,” he said of the Globetrotters’ spontaneous play. “You’re always on your toes, constantly changing.”

Basketball is Blakes’ lifelong passion.

Born and raised in Phoeniz, his first exposure to the game was watching the NBA’s Suns at age 5.

To make his own hoop, he would cut a hole in the top of his dad’s hat, flip it over and shoot a tennis ball through it.

One of his favorite childhood basketball memories was when he finally stole the ball from his older cousin, who taught him how to dribble.

“He was one of the best basketball players in the state, and he would never just give me the ball. I had to try and steal it every time,” Blakes said. “When I finally stole it from him, my confidence soared, and my fate in the game of basketball was sealed.”

Years of practice from the point forward position made him one of the most accurate shooters around. Hence the nickname Buckets. He could fill it up – and still does – in many different ways.

Blakes, a great athlete in high school, would go on to star at the University of Wyoming.

Despite touring half the year with the Globetrotters, Blakes went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in psychology in January 2012. He made the dean’s list three times while completing online courses.

His parents, he said, are his heroes because they always involved him and his nine siblings in positive things.

When he isn’t entertaining crowds with the Globetrotters, Blakes stays close to his Phoenix-area home to be with his three kids. He enjoys working with youth, and welcomes the chance to present the Globetrotters’ various community outreach programs as an ambassador.

Blakes would like to run his own gym some day and help kids build character and self-esteem through sports mentoring. He encourages youngsters to “be the best ‘you’ that you can be because it’s very difficult to try and be someone else.”

More fathers, male teachers and role models are needed today in schools and communities to help youth succeed, Blakes insisted. He has the utmost respect and appreciation for teachers.

His message to youth is just another part of his versatile game.

A dream job for a player and mentor?

“Of course,” he said. “I have the opportunity to see the world and to see people laugh and smile in 79 countries. It’s a chance to give something back.”

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For event information and tickets, visit showarecenter.com.

See Blakes’ amazing shot here.

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