Former Owl Fatima Maddox returns to city as a Harlem Globetrotter

The team's first woman player in a generation - Fatima "TNT" Maddox, a graduate and former star of Temple University.
The team's first woman player in a generation - Fatima "TNT" Maddox, a graduate and former star of Temple University.
Posted: March 09, 2012

At Temple University, basketball star Fatima Maddox won an award for her three-point shooting. In Globetrotters basketball, she's learned it's all about the four-pointers.

A four-pointer: That's 35 feet from the basket, 12 feet past the NBA's three-point line. It's the Globetrotters' most recent addition to the game.

"We have some amazing four-point scorers, and they've been trying to lead me on the right path," said the former Owl and rookie Harlem Globetrotters guard.

The team calls her "TNT," for her explosiveness on the court. The Philly resident is the ninth female player in the history of the exhibition team, and the first since 1993. This weekend, she returns to her city for two Globetrotters games at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday.

"I have a lot of lifelong friends that I made in Philadelphia . . . I'm excited just to come back and play in front of all my friends," she said.

The Globetrotters will also visit the Liacouras Center on Friday and the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton on Saturday. Maddox will be attending the funeral of a family member on Friday, according to a team spokesman, but plans to rejoin the Globetrotters at the end of the weekend.

The touring team, which formed in Chicago and moved to New York in the 1920s, will be sending players across the United States, Canada, and Europe for shows scheduled over the next few months.

The Globetrotters' well-known brand of performance combines impressive basketball skills with showmanship and comedy. The charismatic players relentlessly quash their foils, the Washington Generals. The team has attracted NBA greats such as Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain and has performed in more than 100 countries.

Maddox's journey to the Harlem squad started in the West. She made waves at her Colorado Springs high school: In addition to multiple basketball accolades, she set the state record for the high jump and triple jump.

In college, Maddox played for the University of New Mexico, and then at Temple under the coaching of three-time Olympic champion Dawn Staley.

After graduation, Maddox played two seasons in Sweden on an Adidas all-star exhibition team before getting scouted for the Globetrotters. Her new team, she said, is the greatest collection of talent yet.

"There are some amazing, amazing athletes coming in the rookie class," she said.

One of her classmates is Paul "Tiny" Sturgess, a deep-voiced British graduate of Mountain State University, who, at 7-foot-8, holds the official Guinness World Record as the tallest professional basketball player in the world.

Sturgess, who tops former NBA star Yao Ming by a couple of inches, is a player of scale: As the team's tallest asset, he said, his duty is largely to block shots, make rebounds "and just goof around and have some fun."

The rookies are enjoying their new roles on the team, both as players and as ambassadors of goodwill.

Maddox counts her community work with the Globetrotters - including visits to schools, hospitals, and Ronald McDonald House Charities and horseback riding with special-needs children - as one of the chief reasons she joined the team.

"We do probably even more things off the court than on the court," she said.

According to Sturgess, the Globetrotters' signature basketball-spinning is an instant way to brighten a hospital patient's day. "They basically light up right away," he said.

Maddox, the sole woman on a team that traverses the international stage, has an additional role.

"At the end of the day, it's very inspiring to women and young girls, from what I've been told . . . that's been very rewarding for me," she said.

In addition to touring with a world-famous basketball team, Maddox is working toward a master's degree in management.

She might find a career in that field, she said, or she might become a coach. The first-year Globetrotter hasn't yet decided.

One thing is sure, she said: "I hope to be a Globetrotter for a very long time."


Harlem Globetrotters

The 2012 World Tour comes to the Philadelphia region for five games this weekend. The Globetrotters will be at the Liacouras Center of Temple University, 1776 N. Broad St., at 7 p.m. Friday; at the Sun National Bank Center, 81 Hamilton Ave., Trenton, N.J., on Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m.; and at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m. Tickets are on sale online at ComcastTIX.com, by phone at 1-800-298-4200, or at the Wells Fargo Center box office, 3601 S. Broad St.


Contact Matt Huston at 215-854-5289 or mhuston@philly.com.

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