March 14, 2009
Levi Smith finds himself on the losing end of the stick every night and he loves it. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies, Smith has certainly taken his show on the road. He graduated from Emmanuel College in 2008 as the men's basketball program's all-time leader in blocked shots and the program's fourth all-time leading scorer and subsequently signed on to play for the Washington Generals. The Generals are known world-wide for losing literally thousands of times to the world famous Harlem Globetrotters. Smith and the Generals now face defeat at the hands of the Globetrotters between seven to nine times per week. However, it appears that all of these losses have culminated in a giant win for Levi Smith.
A 1,000-point scorer at Emmanuel and the Great Northeast Athletic Conference's leader for blocked shots in a career, Smith now travels the globe playing for the Generals and losing night after night. Smith's 66 wins recorded as an Emmanuel Saint are certainly more than he will ever accumulate playing for the Generals. The Washington Generals have circled the globe losing to the Globetrotters in hundreds of countries, as well as in all fifty states.
The Harlem Globetrotters have been playing basketball for over 82 years and the Generals have been their struggling opponents for almost as long. The team that has been assembled to suffer losses to the Globetrotters year after year was known early on as the Washington Generals. The franchise then changed to the Boston Shamrocks, the Baltimore Rockets, the Atlantic City Seagulls, the Boston Whirlwinds, the New Jersey Reds, the International All-Stars, the New York Nationals, and now the Washington Generals again. Regardless of team name or franchise location, the Globetrotters' opponents have lost more than 15,000 times. In fact, the Washington Generals have not beaten the Globetrotters since 1971, making for a losing streak surpassing 10,000 games.
Although arguably the losingest team in history, the Generals are hand-picked and each player must go through a tryout process before signing with the team. Smith was first noticed by the general manager of the Generals, while playing at an exposure camp known as Infosports Pro Basketball Combine. Smith had hoped to continue his basketball career beyond the collegiate level. His original intention and reason for playing in the combine was to gain exposure, with the hopes of receiving an offer to play either professionally overseas or in one of the semi-professional leagues in the United States. The offer from the Generals proved to be the perfect fit for Smith.
In November of 2008, after sending in references and a game film, Smith signed a one-year contract to play for the team. His first tour with the team was a military tour, which lasted from November 26th through December 17th, and took the team to South Korea, Japan and Gaum. Once this tour was over, Smith was soon asked to join the domestic east coast tour. His east coast schedule is intense, with the team playing 126 games in a span of 120 days, lasting from December 26th to April 19th. This tour is then followed by the European tour, which lasts from late April until the end of May.
Smith, originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is ecstatic to have the opportunity to play ball nightly against the Harlem Globetrotters. Although finding himself on the losing end of a nightly battle, Smith thoroughly enjoys playing in the tremendous venues that his new position offers. The Globetrotters and the Generals play anywhere from high school gymnasiums and local Boys & Girls Clubs to Madison Square Garden and recently on the roof of Philadelphia's Wachovia Spectrum. On March 29 and 30, 2009, Smith and the Generals will take on the Globetrotters in Boston at the TD Banknorth Garden. The Garden's seating capacity of 18,624 surely dwarfs that of the gymnasium in Emmanuel's Jean Yawkey Center, which holds a capacity crowd of 1,400.
Emmanuel College's Head Men's Basketball Coach Jamahl Jackson is thrilled for Levi and commented on the incredible experience he has been awarded. "Levi is one of the hardest workers, most coachable and well-liked players I have ever coached. Levi always has a kind word for everybody. Being a Global Studies major in college and having such a passion for basketball makes this experience so fitting and worthwhile. Forget the Generals' win-loss record; it's the experience that is most valuable. He is becoming a part of basketball history, competing with the legendary Globetrotters, traveling the world, and playing in front of thousands of fans, while using basketball to afford this experience. This is surely something that he will tell his grandchildren about," boasted Jackson.
Smith's role with the Generals is comparable to that of his role with the Saints. He plays the forward position, runs the floor, shoots jumpers, and grabs rebounds. All the while, he does it in front of crowds of tens of thousands and in incredible arenas. "This experience has been amazing," said Smith. "I play against the Harlem Globetrotters everyday, the team known as the original ambassadors of basketball. Couple that with the fact that I get to travel the world playing basketball makes this experience all the more spectacular! I am very fortunate to have this opportunity." He may and most likely will lose every game, but his experience with the Generals is definitely a win for Levi Smith.