Who could have guessed a canceled talent show would lead to recognition from the Harlem Globetrotters and, eventually, global fame?
That’s what happened to nine roundball-crazy boys from Elizabeth Haddon Elementary School, whose chance at local accolades turned into something much bigger than anyone anticipated.
Max Gorman, along with buddies Luke Barrett, Nate Bollard, J.P. Crawford, Henry Flowers, Liam Josephson, Johnny McClellan, Shane McGonigle and Ethan Shevchenko represent all three classrooms in third grade and dubbed themselves The Lizzy Buckets. They were working on a complex set of drills and tricks for a March show, but the pandemic conspired to keep them away.
“The show was set for March 20, but was canceled, because we got the shelter-in-place order the week before,” said Katie Gorman, Max’s mother, who coordinated the solution to the problem.
“One day, there were 100 kids practicing for the (talent show) finale, but Gerry (Haddon principal Bissinger) had to come into the gym and say no more than 50 could be there, per the governor’s orders. Our initial idea was that it’ll happen, but we first needed to be quarantined for two weeks .It was their intention to perform the talent show at some point.”
The boys, according to Gorman, were planning to perform a medley of basketball-related songs like the 1992 classic, “Jump,” from Kris Kross, as well as the theme song to the 1996 movie, “Space Jam,” among others. All nine boys were working on moves that made the Globetrotters famous: the spider dribble, spinning the ball on their fingers, passing to each other in creative ways and spinning or dribbling while laying on the floor.
“But after a month, they’re only able to communicate with friends, and it’s been through Zoom and Facebook messenger and SafeTime,” Gorman explained. “That’s their version of a play date now.
“And they were looking at videos where one person passes a ball or something to someone else and it cuts like they’re passing next to each other.”
The group was understandably disappointed, but an idea was hatched.
“We had gone to the Globetrotters when they came through Philadelphia in March, and had a great experience,” Gorman recalled. “They all wanted the jerseys and the headbands and stuff like that.
“I had the idea of talking to someone I knew, and in asking a friend of a friend who was connected with the Globetrotters, he was able to do this for us,” she added. “The original idea was for them to give the kids a shout out, but he said let’s go one step further. We had a conversation on Monday and we were able to coordinate this on a Thursday.
“I couldn’t believe it.”
A Zoom meeting was set up for the boys on April 16 to perform their routine. Globetrotters stars Hammer Harrison and Cherokee High School graduate Cheese Chisholm also joined the call, but decided to orchestrate a surprise — with performances from the former’s home in Tampa and the latter’s New York City location as well as a virtual hangout after.
“We really feel for these kids who are missing out on special events right now. So, it was special for us to bring a surprise to these awesome kids who had practiced so hard to execute a Globetrotters routine at their canceled talent show,” said Chisholm.
“And as a graduate of Cherokee High School, it was extra special for me to give back to kids from South Jersey. Seeing their smiles through my computer screen put a smile on my face right back.”
As is typical for famous cameos in the virtual world, news of the Globetrotters’ gesture to The Lizzy Buckets has made the rounds the world over.
“He wasn’t aware (of how big the video was), but “Good Morning America” was aware,” Gorman said of her son. “They’ve made it to Hawaii as well. Max and his friends were so jazzed to hear the video was even aired in Australia. He’s not letting this go to his head: The real joy is still in the surprise.
“The aftermath has been so crazy. Max still has the glow. The kids are watching their clips and enjoying the fact that there are other outlets picking up the story. It’s something to look forward to when there’s nothing to look forward to.”
The video and accompanying music are courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters. A link to the full video of the meeting can be found here: https://youtu.be/JecED1Ch_e4.