Dizzy Grant helps keep Globetrotters' fans smiling

2014-02-28T18:15:00Z 2014-03-01T00:02:05Z Dizzy Grant helps keep Globetrotters' fans smilingBy ADAM BRYANT Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
February 28, 2014 6:15 pm  • 

Shaquille O'Neal's infamous free-throw attempts. Charles Barkley's even more infamous golf swing.

Not even Michael Jordan’s on court mannerisms are safe from Derick “Dizzy” Grant’s spot-on comedic imitations. Along with being one of 28 players on the roster of the Harlem Globetrotters, Grant has viewers in stitches over his hilarious NBA player impersonations across the internet.

Grant will join his Globetrotters teammates at MetraPark Arena on Sunday at 2 p.m. Known as the "Ambassadors of Goodwill," the Globetrotters have been entertaining fans for 88 years with their basketball antics and supporting communities around the world.

Fans won’t have trouble spotting the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Grant on the court, as No. 2 is nicknamed “Dizzy” for a reason.

The Globetrotters are currently on the 2014 “Fans Rule” World Tour, which allows fans to vote on what happens during the game. The “Trick Shot Challenge”, and the “Make or Miss”, and “Hot Hand Jersey” will be part of the fun on Sunday.

Grant has the distinction as the first professional basketball player to make a 4-point shot in a game. Located close to half-court, the 4-point circles are 35 feet from either basket during a Globetrotters game.

His impersonations of various NBA players started as way to give his teammates a laugh, but suddenly he was performing in front of the camera — displaying his knack for mimicking the play of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, or his all-time favorite player, Michael Jordan.

Although Grant was a bit timid when he met Shaquille O’Neal, Shaq took the ribbing well. “We were in Indiana and Shaq was in the locker room next to us, and everyone was like, ‘Do the Shaq impression!’. I was, like, this guy’s 7-1, so I was scared. But he loved it. He was cracking up.”

With a contagious smile and affable nature, Grant truly is the heart of the Globetrotters. He loves to entertain and travel, but ‘trotting’ the world can be unpredictable.

“I remember in 2010 we traveled to Libya and it was a culture shock," he said. "It looked like a war was going on. Then we were two hours late to the game, and thinking ‘No one is going to be there now’. But when we finally arrived, there were 10,000 fans screaming for us as if we showed up 10 minutes early.”

Grant was seven years old when he first saw the Globetrotters in Rochester, N.Y., and he knew right then he wanted to play basketball. After being the No. 2 all-time scoring leader at the College of New Jersey, he knew he wanted to play professionally. “I actually came to Billings in 2005 to try out for the All-American Professional Basketball League, and they liked me, but the league folded before the season began. That actually worked out for the best ... otherwise I probably wouldn’t be a Globetrotter today.”

Although Dizzy has everyone clutching their ribs with his zany antics, he says that he isn’t even the funniest Globetrotter on the team.

“Hi-Lite is the funniest guy I’ve ever met," said Grant. "There isn’t a game that goes by that he doesn’t have me laughing.

“I’m known as the funny guy on the team ... sort of the class clown. I believe that life is too short to not have fun.”

Grant’s fondest memory with the Globetrotters came in 2009 when they traveled to Iraq to support U.S. troops.

“We actually got to stay the night on the aircraft carrier," he said. "It was crazy. Some of the troops said they hadn’t seen the sun in weeks. Moments like that is what being a Globetrotter is all about. They were so happy to have us on board. It’s was great. They said we were heroes, but I told them that they were the real heroes.”

As a husband and father, Grant understands the sacrifices he's making to be a Globetrotter. “It’s tough to be on the road so much, away from family, but I truly appreciate how fortunate I am to be doing what I do.”

Whether it’s his signature dribbling trick — "Over the Hill and Through the Woods" — or his fondness for the classic "water-bucket trick," Grant isn’t all fun and games. He has spoken to kids all over the world about stopping and preventing bullying, and said he will continue to spread that message.

In 88 years, a lot of Globetrotters have come and gone, but their style of play, sense of nostalgia and family-friendly entertainment remains the same. So, when it comes to coming up with new tricks or moves, Grant says, “The Globetrotters have a proven formula. We don’t need to change much. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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