It started out as just another Wednesday night for seven year old Amanda Rivera Vega.
However, her parents, Carol Pabon and Staff Sgt. Michael Rivera Vega, 52nd Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of medical logistics from Puerto Rico, decided not to take the family to the movies or out shopping but to the Skelton Memorial Fitness Center for a basketball game.
And instead of seeing her dad’s work buddies play, it was to see a team she’d never heard of and based out of somewhere called Harlem.
As unfamiliar as she was with the Harlem Globetrotters, she and her dad moved from their seats in the risers to the floor in an area behind one of the baskets to get a better view of the game.
While watching and learning from her dad about the sport, Amanda suddenly noticed a new person sitting right beside her: 6’6″ Harlem player Slick.
Under a special rule, the second quarter of the game commenced with a two-on-two match where players added a teammate after just scoring a basket. If they missed, they had to return a member to the benches.
And that’s exactly what brought Slick to Amanda’s side — to ask her to be a new member with the team on the court, and she agreed.
“Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” The referee shouted to the team after blowing his whistle. “Who is THIS?”
“This is Amanda,” Slick said.
As the newest player on the team, she had to earn the right to be considered a Globetrotter. To prove that, Slick bent down beside his new friend and asked her to hold up her left index finger.
She did, and Slick, who began spinning a basketball on his index finger, soon tranferred the ball in-motion to hers.
And the crowd went wild…
“My dad just brought me here today and then I was in the game,” she said. “I got real nervous. I never thought I could do that – but it wasn’t hard to do.”
When Amanda returned to her seat with an autographed basketball from the team, her family said they now saw her as a basketball star.
“It was unbelievable seeing my daughter there and the expression of happiness on her face,” Sergeant Rivera Vega said. “I will remember this for a long, long time.”
Amanda’s crowd-stopping display served as just one episode in the many highlights of the Dec. 4 game, where the Globetrotters defeated the International Elite 91-78.