Now in his eighth year with the Harlem Globetrotters, Julian “Zeus” McClurkin has traveled the world, playing before rapt, appreciative crowds.
The crowd Friday was hanging on his every word, watching his every move.
McClurkin made an appearance at Raleigh’s Stough Magnet Elementary School, showing off some of his basketball skills while talking to the students about the ABC’s of bullying prevention.
McClurkin, who played college basketball at North Carolina A&T, said he had a bullying experience while he was in middle school.
“There was always a girl who would mess with me and bully me,” he said in an interview. “We were in band class and she’d always throw drum sticks at me and try to get a reaction out of me.
“What I tell kids is the best thing to do with a bully is to walk away. They’re always trying to get a reaction out of you, always trying to get you to change character. My mom always told me just kill them with kindness. Be nice to people even when they’re mean to you.”
Good will ambassador
That’s the message he gave to the 200 kids assembled in the school gym. Don’t be afraid to tell a teacher if you see someone being bullied. If it’s you being bullied, don’t be afraid to walk away.
“This is some of what the Globetrotters do,” McClurkin said “We’re ambassadors of good will. We’re great basketball players on the court but off the court we have other things we do like the ABC’s of bullying prevention. That’s why I go into the schools and tell the kids how you can take action, be brave but also have compassion on people who have been bullied in the past.
“Bullying such a huge epidemic these days in schools and we partner with the national campaign to stop violence. We issued essays to school-age kids and asked them what’s the No. 1 problems kids face today in schools, and the No. 1 problem was bullying.”
The ABC’s of Bullying Prevention program targets 6- to 12-year-old kids. Stough was chosen for the Globetrotter appearance after a student nominated Chris Davila, a fifth-grade teacher, for an ABC’s of Bullying Prevention award for his commitment to stopping bullying in his classroom and at the school.
McClurkin, 31, will be back in Raleigh soon and with rest of the guys. The Harlem Globetrotters will play PNC Arena on Sunday, Feb. 11.
After A&T, McClurkin spent a year playing pro basketball in Paraguay. His next team was the Washington Generals, the sad-sack outfit that’s always the foil for the Globetrotters.
“Probably lost to the Globetrotters 200 times,” McClurkin said, smiling. “But they probably got tired of me dunking on me.”
McClurkin, too much the showman, was soon with the Globetrotters. He said he’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for making 16 dunks in a minute and the 6-foot-8 forward certainly dazzled the Stough students to the sounds of “Sweet Georgia Brown,” long the “Trotters’ trademark song.
McClurkin said the ’Trotters this year are playing 320 in 260 cities. Each player, he said, plays more than 200 games.
McClurkin said he never tires of fans seeing him in his Globetrotter gear and wanting to talk of the great Globetrotters of the past – Meadowlark Lemon, Curley Neal and the others.
“Even though people may not know me individually they know that I represent a huge brand,” he said. “It brings a smile to the heart and to their face when they see this brand. It’s pretty cool.”
There were a lot of smiles Friday at Stough. All in all, pretty cool.