(Reprinted with permission from the Oklahoma Publishing Company)
By Jenni Carlson
Oklahoman Columnist (to view original story click here)
Tyler Inman has played thousands of basketball games on Oklahoma soil, first growing up in Savanna, then playing college ball at Southwestern Christian.
But even thinking about the four games he will play in his home state this weekend has him nervous.
“I kind of try not to” think about it, he said.
Crazy thing is, he already knows his team is going to win.
Inman is one of the newest members of the Harlem Globetrotters, the world-renowned exhibition basketball team that “plays” the Washington Generals and always “wins”. But of course, it’s not about the outcome. It’s about the show.
The Globetrotters are goodwill ambassadors in short pants.
“It’s the best part about this job,” Inman said, who will be with the Globetrotters during stops in Oklahoma City and Tulsa this weekend. “The joy and the impact you have on people ... it’s an awesome feeling.”
Inman never imagined this would be anything he’d be experiencing even as recently as last spring. He was finishing up his college career at Southwestern Christian, when he was invited to the NAIA slam dunk contest last March in Kansas City. He didn’t just go. He didn’t just win. He brought down the house.
Inman threw down a vast array of dunks. Windmill. Between the legs. Behind the back. Toss from half court, grab the ball on one hop, take off from the free-throw line and slam it one handed.
His dunks went viral.
Video of Inman in the contest was viewed nearly 600,000 times on YouTube — and that doesn’t even account for all the other websites that picked up the video.
The Sporting News declared that Inman’s dunks would’ve won the NBA Dunk Contest. The Big Lead called Inman the “Best White Guy Dunker since Brent Barry”.
Word of Inman’s dunktastic performance made its way to the Globetrotters. They contacted Inman and invited him to a tryout. Some of it was like any other basketball tryout with five on five and shooting drills and whatnot, but some of it was completely different.
The Globetrotters, after all, have three positions: showman, dribbler, finisher. Inman is a finisher, so he had to demonstrate how he could finish.
“Show your dunks,” they told him. “Show what you can do.”
Inman did, but when he left the tryout, he wasn’t sure if he’d done enough. After all, the Globetrotters only add three or four new players a year.
“I was grateful for the opportunity,” Inman said. “If it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be crushed by it. I was just there to show what I could do, and if they liked me, that’s great. But I wasn’t going to be crushed if it didn’t happen.”
He returned to Oklahoma and prepared for a busy summer. He was graduating college in May and getting married in June. He was moving to Broken Arrow — his wife, Jaci, was a star point guard at Oral Roberts and is now the women’s basketball director of player development there — and he was looking for a teaching and coaching job in the Tulsa area.
Both his mother and his father were longtime teachers and coaches, so he expected to start down a similar path. It’s what he knew, but it’s also what he loved.
But then, the Globetrotters called. They wanted him.
It would mean weeks at a time on the road and time away from Jaci. It would mean that they’d struggle to see each other since he’d be playing and she’d be coaching. Still, Inman figured he just couldn’t bypass the chance.
The Globetrotters have been in existence for nearly 90 years, and their alumni includes some of the greatest to ever play the game. Wilt Chamberlain. Marcus Haynes. Meadowlark Lemon. Lynette Woodard. Joining those ranks was a rare opportunity.
Plus, how many jobs are there in the world where you get to do something you love and something that everyone loves you for?
“It’s about the fans,” Inman said. “It’s about making them happy.”
Thus far, Inman has gotten to do that all around the eastern half of the United States. Since making his Globetrotters debut on the day after Christmas, he has played in the historic Madison Square Garden and the immaculate Barclays Center. He has been in arenas where NBA, NHL and major-college teams play. He has even returned to Kansas City where this whole thing started with that dunk contest.
But despite playing in some notable places, nothing compares to playing in front of friends and family. He considers the highlight of his Globetrotter career thus far to be the games that wife, Jaci, has gotten to be there.
No wonder Inman is freaking out a little about coming home and playing this weekend in Oklahoma. He’ll have not one but tons of family and friends at every game. But much like his debut with the Globetrotters back in December, he figures he’ll be nervous at the start, then after that first dunk, nerves will give way to enjoyment.
“I think it’s going to be a great, fun time,” he said. “I’m excited to be back in Oklahoma where I live, where I was born. It’s going to be really fun to play in front of a lot of family, a lot of friends.
“I’m really excited about it.”
Sounds like the Globetrotters will have a high riser who’s extra pumped this weekend.
Should be quite a show.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.
Friday: 7 p.m., Tulsa, BOK Center
Saturday: 2 and 7 p.m., Oklahoma City, Chesapeake Energy Arena
Sunday: 3 p.m., Tulsa, BOK Center
Posted on Fri, February 6, 2015
by Justin Tinder