Comedy came to court Friday night, but there was no dancing jester, just the Harlem Rockets, a comedic troupe of basketball entertainers. The team took over the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School gymnasium for a challenge match against the MV Jammers, a team of local basketball greats and not-so-greats, in a family-friendly game courtesy of the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club.
In front of a large, boisterous crowd, the Rockets put on quite a show.
Before the game started, James “Speedy” Williams brought 11-year-old Dylan Biggs onto the court to spin a basketball on his finger. That fan interaction set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The match started started with an entertaining bang. A Rockets player slammed a huge dunk home. In subsequent possessions, the Harlem players displayed a wide range of skills, throwing alley-oops to one another and dribbling around the Vineyard players, always with a huge smile. The Jammers, though, would not allow themselves to only be comedic fodder. They kept the game competitive, with assistant girls coach and former high school standout Asil Cash hitting several sweet threes and Tim Roberts, a senior, trying to jump through the roof.
With four minutes left in the first half, several Jammers players fell to the court with “injuries.” The Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls youth basketball team replaced them, facing off against a team nearly triple their size. Aiden Rogers hit two perfect three-pointers, much to the delight of Vineyard spectators. They did score, though, and actually cut into the lead.
The halftime show, and there was a show, included an interactive game where children and parents alike were called to center court. The only rule of the game was to catch the ball when it was passed. The trick, though, was that Speedy Williams was doing fancy dribble moves and fakes in the center of the circle, all the while throwing surprise passes. The crowd was wholeheartedly invested in this game, cheering and hollering when anyone missed an easy catch.
When the second half started, the Rockets decided the crowd support was worth an increase in points. So Mr. Williams stopped the game and demanded the Jammers get more points. But no one was there to see a close game. In fact, no one even cared about the score after halftime. The crowd was in the moment, laughing and cheering with both teams. When the game finally ended, the Harlem Rockets stayed to mingle with the crowd and to sign autographs, much to the delight of the kids in the audience. They swarmed the court immediately after the game, shooting hoops and having a great time.
A true family event, this game was enjoyed by parents and kids alike. The Harlem Rockets are welcome back to Martha’s Vineyard anytime.