"I hope you're ready for some showtime basketball!"
After that exhortation Saturday night from announcer and Durham native Ben "EZ-B" Werblow, the speakers in the Rocky Hill High School gymnasium began to blast Superstar by Lupe Fiasco, and the Harlem Superstars, a team of "entertainment basketball" specialists, were introduced: dribbling phenom Cool Dave; scoring machine Wi-Fly; thunderous dunker Skyscraper; trick-shot artist Razmatazz; team clown Showboat; and reserve energy ball Surfer Boy.
Playing the role of the Washington Generals in Saturday's game was the "Rocky Hill Dream Team", formed from district faculty. The game was sponsored by the Stevens Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization, and proceeds from ticket sales raised money for the school.
The game was divided into ten-minute quarters that featured a running clock. Each quarter was split between interludes of actual basketball and breaks for comedy skits, as the Superstars periodically interrupted the contest to ham it up with Dream Team members and the crowd.
To keep the score respectable, the Superstars extended frequent help to their hardy but hapless opponents. They passed the ball back to the teachers again and again off defensive rebounds to allow them extra opportunities to shoot, and, in one possession, actually put it through the net for them when the Dream Team couldn't seem to locate the hoop.
Still, like the Harlem Globetrotters, the Harlem Superstars do not lose. They showcased enough of their hoops prowess to leave the court with a very relaxed 57 - 37 victory.
Intervals in which the Superstars were actually exerting effort followed a similar pattern: Cool Dave exhibited his ballhandling wizardry and precision alley-oops to the sky-flying Wi-Fly, Razmatazz executed some nifty stunt-shooting, Showboat made general mischief, and Skyscraper and Surfer Boy rocked the rim with driving dunks. "Surfer Boy" Faulkner had the slam of the night in the 4th quarter when he penetrated the lane for a reverse jam and then pulled his legs all the way up to the basket, before dismounting via backwards somersault.
Faulkner, who is reminiscent of a young Anderson Verajao in both game and appearance, said that he enjoyed his homecoming performance.
"I know a lot of people here. It's nice, especially because I haven't been playing this year. But, they asked me to play this one."
Werblow clarified that the Superstars roster is composed of rotating players, and every year it features new faces. Team members regularly move on to pursue their individual basketball ambitions and play with the Harlem Globetrotters or try out for the NBA, National Basketball Development League, or international pro teams.
But, players also come to the Superstars from the higher-profile platforms of the sport. "We've had guys from the Globetrotters come down and play with us," Werblow affirmed.
The Superstars hype-man hopes to join the Globetrotters franchise soon himself, but, after seven years as the team's announcer, he admits that he still loves his job.
"Traveling around, raising money for all the schools—it’s great.”