'The best job in the world': Blakes talks about being a Globetrotter before Fargo visit
FARGO—Before he was Buckets Blakes for the Harlem Globetrotters he was Anthony Blakes, a 5-year-old in Phoenix, Ariz., begging his parents to buy him a Nerf basketball hoop for the door in his bedroom.
His parents didn't move quick enough, so Blakes cut a hole in one of his dad's hats, turned it upside down, slid it into the door and shot tennis balls into it. It was at that age that Blakes told himself he was going to be a professional athlete.
He never imagined he would be shooting a basketball into a hoop with a harness on, so he wouldn't fall 583 feet off the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio or nearly 300 feet off a skylift at Stone Mountain, just outside of Atlanta. That's been his life for the last 15 years with the Globetrotters, something he never imagined.
"Not one bit," Blakes said. "It's the best job in the world. You get the opportunity to fly all over the world. I've been to 79 countries and you can make people smile and laugh, despite language barriers. I do not speak 79 languages, but laughter is universal. You get to play for the home team no matter where you go, and that's pretty awesome."
Blakes will be part of the home team when the Globetrotters come to Fargo on April 20 at Scheels Arena.
"You get a chance to play the game you love and travel a lot," Blakes said. "Most of us on the team, we've been traveling our whole lives for sports. I've been traveling for sports since I was 8."
At 5 years old, Blakes said he wanted to be a professional athlete, but didn't specify what. He had college offers for football, basketball and track and field from his time at Trevor Browne High School in Phoenix. He went with basketball because he wanted to be indoors, growing up in the Phoenix heat.
He was a junior college All-American at Arizona Western before transferring to the University of Wyoming, where, as a senior, he was one of two Mountain West Conference players to finish in the top 15 in scoring, rebounding and assists.
He played in the Continental Basketball Association, which became the National Basketball Development League, before going to Finland to play professional basketball. A couple days after he stopped playing overseas, the Globetrotters gave him a call.
As for those who wonder how one becomes a Globetrotter, it's more than spinning a ball on your finger.
"We have scouts that go out scouting guys and girls," Blakes said. "They're looking for three criteria. They're looking for great basketball players, great athletes and then they're looking for a certain personality because not only do you have to entertain and compete on the court, but we also get out and do a lot of community outreach.
"They find us in colleges and other professional teams. Some players came straight to the Globetrotters from college, some have played in the NBA, some, like myself played in the CBA and Europe and came to the Globetrotters. It depends on the person. You never know who is looking at you. Just like college when you're in high school, it's the same thing with people scouting you for pro ball."
After being scouted comes a sit-down interview and background checks. After that, it's things like breaking the world record for most underhanded, half-court shots in one minute, as Blakes did when he hit six in 46 seconds.
From dreaming at 5 years, shooting into a hat, to hitting a shot from 583 feet, Blakes' career has taken him to new heights. There was nothing lucky about it, or the fact he drilled the shot from the top of the Tower of Americas on his second try.
"That was just confidence," Blakes said.