At the 1974 Jersey Jam, John Kirkland and Victor Malafronte announced that they had been hired to do a Frisbee exhibition as part of the entertainment show the Harlem Globetrotters presented during each game of their nationwide basketball series.
I had the particularly good fortune to attend the Harlem Globe Trotter game held in Rochester NY, circa February 1975. There is no way I can describe how exhilarating or fabulous their performance was. I’ll start by saying that it made the basketball game itself sort of ho-hum. Don’t forget, in 1974, few if anyone one in the crowd had ever seen a Frisbee performance of any kind. The substance of John and Victor’s show was all new to the vast majority of the spectators; they were ripe for a brand new experience. They went absolutely wild with everything that those guys did. On that particular night, John and Victory did an amazingly flawless show. But it wasn’t your normal competition routine in any sense of the word. It was designed to entertain, and it was choreographed to the hilt to do just that. They had a professional announcer narrating along with a pre-made tape of appropriate music and sound effects for the specific moves being done, and everything was perfectly timed.
The opening consisted of Kirkland standing unseen behind the baskets at one end of the court, stepping into view upon cue from the loudly playing tape being used for the occasion. He launched a huge anhyzer throw way up and out over the crowd, skimming high over the uppermost level of arena seats. It floated gracefully down on a perfect line toward the other basket. A hidden Malafronte magically appeared from behind the basket at the last second and successfully snagged the throw with a leaping trap catch between the knees. Just the accuracy and trajectory of the throw alone, along with the announcer’s hype, got the crowd going, but when Victor jumped out and closed with the perfect leaping trap catch between the knees, the crowd went absolutely wild. It set them up to anticipate more, and they weren’t disappointed. The guys continued with a few more high curving flights terminated with behind the head and behind the back trick catches, each one delighting the crowd as well as the first one did. The guys then settled in to a smooth and flawless quick catch and trick throw sequence that would have been competitive in any modern-day competition. They followed that sequence up with a short skit mimicking a gunslinger dual in which they used Frisbees as bullets and guts type throws as their guns, wowing the crowd with their ability to catch each other’s blazingly fast throws. After the skit, they did multiple disc throwing, juggling three discs between them.
From the very first introductory anhyzer throw to the end of the three-disc juggling sequence, John and Victor did not drop or bobble the disc at any time during the show!
Upon completion of their multiple disc routine, the guys gathered at mid-court as if to they were ready to take a bow in complete of their program, but the announcer stalled them by asking if they could throw the Frisbee into the basket from the foul line. They made a show of cockiness mimicking a “Sure, no sweat” attitude. As Malafronte lined up at the foul line and aimed at the basket with an overhead hammer throw stance, Kirkland tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to the other basket way across the full court. Malafronte mimed a “What, are you crazy” type of response, and then with a shrug of his shoulders took aim at the far basket anyway. The crowd got into it and Malafronte milked the situation with perfect timing. He threw the prettiest hammer throw you ever wanted to see. The disc swished smack dab right through the center of the hoop as clean as it could be done. Kirkland and Malafronte wisely chose that moment to take their bows and walked off the court to a wild standing ovation crowd. The rest of the night was truly boring by comparison.
Previously at the October Jersey Jam, neither Kirkland nor Malafronte had showed anywhere near the type of pizzazz that they displayed at that Globetrotter game halftime performance. The Globetrotter tour certainly showed what practice, hard work and choreography can produce. I have been told by John Kirkland that the flawless success I saw that night was typical of every exhibition they performed with the Globetrotters that year, and that they had only three for four drops or bobbles during the whole series! Regardless of how accurate that statistic might be, the performance that I saw that night was absolutely flawless. The 1974-74 Kirkland-Malafronte Globetrotter tour strongly foreshadowed the freestyle development that was to come about in subsequent years.
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Thanks to the Freestyle Players Association (FPA) for sharing this information with FrisbeeGuru.com.
Skip to 4:51 to see clips of Victor and John’s half time show.