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After winning a race against other kids attending the game, J.J. Sawyer, center, became the object of attention for the clowning Harlem Ambassadors basketball team at Sasebo Naval Base’s Fleet Gym. The Ambassadors, led by Ladè Majic (7), who tried to teach him to “walk cool” Saturday night.
After winning a race against other kids attending the game, J.J. Sawyer, center, became the object of attention for the clowning Harlem Ambassadors basketball team at Sasebo Naval Base’s Fleet Gym. The Ambassadors, led by Ladè Majic (7), who tried to teach him to “walk cool” Saturday night. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
After winning a race against other kids attending the game, J.J. Sawyer, center, became the object of attention for the clowning Harlem Ambassadors basketball team at Sasebo Naval Base’s Fleet Gym. The Ambassadors, led by Ladè Majic (7), who tried to teach him to “walk cool” Saturday night.
After winning a race against other kids attending the game, J.J. Sawyer, center, became the object of attention for the clowning Harlem Ambassadors basketball team at Sasebo Naval Base’s Fleet Gym. The Ambassadors, led by Ladè Majic (7), who tried to teach him to “walk cool” Saturday night. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
Ladè Majic pulled David Freeman from the stands at Saturday’s game and introduced him as her father.
Ladè Majic pulled David Freeman from the stands at Saturday’s game and introduced him as her father. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
Harold Williams of the Harlem Ambassadors tries to orchestrate a mass “urban line dance” at Sasebo Naval Base's Fleet Gym.
Harold Williams of the Harlem Ambassadors tries to orchestrate a mass “urban line dance” at Sasebo Naval Base's Fleet Gym. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
William Key, a player with the Sasebo Naval Base All-Stars, is ordered by the Harlem Ambassadors’ Ladè Majic to do push-ups after a foul.
William Key, a player with the Sasebo Naval Base All-Stars, is ordered by the Harlem Ambassadors’ Ladè Majic to do push-ups after a foul. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Half of the players on the basketball court Saturday evening were all-stars — Sasebo’s finest. But start to finish, the game was so much a joke that the 220 servicemembers, families and others at the Fleet Gym laughed almost non-stop.

That was the point: The local all-stars’ “competition” was the Harlem Ambassadors, the comedy basketball team heir to the Harlem Globetrotters.

The all-stars found themselves getting trounced 83-43. More to the point, perhaps, they found themselves serving more as props than competition for the Ambassadors’ brand of hoop high jinks.

The Sasebo appearance was part of the Ambassadors’ “Around the World Tour,” which has carried the team to 39 states and 19 other nation. While in Japan, they played in Sasebo after dates at Misawa Air Base and Yokosuka Naval Base, and were to play at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, on Sunday.

Despite the team’s emphasis on antics, said Lt. Ralph Roe, the players’ athleticism is impressive.

“Did you see how easily they moved up and down the court? It was almost effortless,” said Roe, who regularly officiates games between base teams. “Our guys can do that for short periods of time sometimes, but these guys just did it continually.”

Eric Raby of Sasebo’s Security Department played on the local all-star team. He said the scoring wasn’t important, even though the local team got walloped.

“It’s all scripted action and we don’t even really cover them defensively. It’s all for fun,” Raby said. “It’s all for the kids and for everybody to have [a] good time.”

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