AUBURN — On Tuesday night, the fans in the Auburn High School gym were begging for a dunk from Cicero-North Syracuse’s Breanna Stewart. They never got the dunk they were pleading for, but Wednesday night, they finally got what they wanted.
The Harlem Wizards took to the court and threw down 13 dunks alone in the first half. The 13 were as simple as one-handed slams or as complex as using the back wall to start an alley oop.
“It’s incredible, just their ability to jump, move so quickly,” Mighty Maroons player Brian Morgan said after participating in the event for the second year. “It’s a lot different than playing a pick up game with your buddies, that’s for sure.”
The Wizards took on community members suited up as the Mighty Maroons for the second consecutive year.
This time around the Mighty Maroons brought their best weapon in Auburn boys basketball head coach Tim Darnell. But even the Maroons best basketball mind wasn’t enough, as the Wizards cruised to a 119-99 win. While last year’s Wizards team brought Dwayne “Swoop” Simpson, who left fans laughing, this year’s Wizards team still left fans with smiles on their faces, but also displayed a good brand of basketball. That wasn’t a bad thing considering it was played at the same time as two other talented men’s teams clashed in the Carrier Dome — Syracuse and Georgetown.
“You got a chance to see both (basketball and entertainment),” Eric “Broadway” Jones said. “With the fact that we came out and entertained, they through us for a little loop in the fourth quarter. They put some guys out there who could play. I think the fans got a chance to see the fact that the players on our team can kind of flip that switch and turn it on. I got a good sweat going right now.”
To begin the fourth quarter, the Mighty Maroons assembled their best players to take the court and actually cut the deficit to two points twice. Darnell made a couple of shots, but the local star of the night was again Marvin Phillips. He nailed a 3 last year and topped that Wednesday with two, including one in transition after he picked a Wizards pocket.
The basketball was complemented nicely though, with comedy. Phillips didn’t have the emcee call his name to the crowd once for his efforts, instead the Wizards PA announcer addressed him as “Barack Obama.” It was just one nickname the Mighty Maroons had to deal with while the fans laughed at their expense. Others included “the fashion statement” due to player wearing khakis shorts and a belt, “Everybody loves Raymond,” “The Hairclub President,” and “The Lost Member of the Backstreet Boys.”
Arnold “A-Train” Bernard continued with the entertainment by making a bet with a fan in the crowd. As he attempted a half-court shot, Broadway said if he didn’t make it he would have to go kiss the fan on the cheek. If he made it however, she would have to return the favor. A-Train first found out how big the woman’s husband was. Then after deciding he and the Wizards could “take him” A-Train eventually agreed to the deal and missed the shot. Like a good sport, he paid up on his bet, kissing the woman on the cheek.
“This is more fun, this is entertaining,” said A-Train, who played at Southwest Missouri State as well as at the world famous Rucker Park. “Rucker Park is entertainment too, but you don’t get as many kids hands on with you. You get to go into the crowd and interact with the kids.”
Just as it did last year, the entertainment on the court, will bring help off of it.
“We are actually at the same as last year or above it,” Majorpalooza Board Chairman Chris Major said. “We were sold out coming into it. Money wise, we did very well. We’re going to be able to help out a lot of people in the community.”