Ventura basketball player Howard Burd is looking forward to spending the next three months losing every game he plays. The 27-year-old accepts that fate as one of the newest members of the Washington Generals, the perennial losing opponent of the Harlem Globetrotters.
“When you play at college and high school you have to win at all costs. Now winning doesn’t matter to me,” said Burd, who is a fleet manager for a car dealership. “The Generals play hard, but they give the Globetrotters 30 points a game. I can just imagine it . . . hit the winning shot and get fired.”
A former player at Granada Hills High School and West Texas State, the 6-foot-6-inch Burd said he had always wanted to play professionally. He just did not expect it to happen. And he certainly never expected it to happen the way it did.
“I was playing basketball at Ventura College about eight months ago and the Globetrotters were there practicing for a game that night,” he said. “They needed an extra player to practice with.”
Burd was glad to oblige. Following practice, Red Klotz, the Generals coach and owner, got Burd’s phone number and said he would give him a call.
It took six months for that call to come, but eventually it did.
Klotz invited Burd to join the team at an exhibition game.
“I was sitting on the bench at the game, just having fun watching the Globetrotters,” he said.
“Then in the second quarter he looked at me and told me to go on out there and play.”
It took another two months for the next call to come.
“Klotz asked, ‘How’d you like to travel around the world?’ He told me to leave my job for three months,” Burd said. “We’ll be traveling to Australia, Japan, China.”
Burd is the only player west of Chicago to be selected for the team. The Generals will pay room, board and traveling expenses, as well as a salary of $2,000 a month. Burd will have to play between five and seven games each week. He reports to Florida on Sept. 5 to begin practice.
It’s the lighthearted aspect of his job as much as the actual playing that excites Burd.
“It’s nice when the Globetrotters pull someone out of the audience and start dancing with them, or when they play with little kids,” he said. “It’s just good to see everybody smiling, especially at a sporting event when everybody is usually so intense.”