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Calling a real winner

Jeff Tully

Working as a public-address announcer for a professional

basketball organization, John Tyler III realizes his team isn’t going

to win every game.


That is evidenced by the team’s 342 losses, coming against squads

like the Washington Generals and the New York Nationals.

However, when you take into consideration the loss total is over a

76-year span, and the team has amassed 20,978 wins in the process,


maybe Tyler’s squad might just expect to win almost every time out.

But for an organization like the Harlem Globetrotters, winning

always takes a back seat to having fun, clowning around and putting

on a good show.

“It is just amazing to be involved with an organization like the

Harlem Globetrotters,” said Tyler, a longtime Burbank resident who

graduated from Burroughs High in 1995. “There is just so much history

with the team, and so many people know who the Globetrotters are. I


am just thrilled to be a part of it.”

Tyler joined the organization Nov. 16 for the Globetrotters’ tour

of Mexico. The team began the North American leg of its tour Dec. 27

-- its 77th consecutive season -- which will take the squad coast to

coast, visiting 43 states, the District of Columbia and two Canadian

provinces. The schedule will include more than 200 games in four

months before heading for an international tour.

Founded in 1926, the Harlem Globetrotters have become perhaps the


best known professional basketball team in the world. Along with

playing an athletic brand of basketball -- involving wild dunks,

long-distance acrobatic shots and amazing passes -- the Globetrotters

also blend humor into their contests, often at the expense of the

opposition and the audience.

Although he wasn’t exactly schooled in the Globetrotter style of

announcing, Tyler said he has been able to catch on quickly and

enjoys being a part of the high jinx.

“For the first few games, I worked with someone who helped me get

a feel of what they wanted me to do,” Tyler said. “But after that, I

was able to get right into it.

“There is a script that they want me to follow, and I have to do

certain things at certain times. But other than that, I just kind of

do my own thing and get into the moment.”

On the tour of Mexico, Tyler said he was able to experience first

hand the love, fascination and affection fans have for the Harlem


“The Mexican people are very fanatical about their sports and

sports teams,” he said. “It was amazing to see the reaction the

Globetrotters got, especially from the young fans.”


Traveling around the world and being a part of the most successful

sports organization ever is a far cry from the friendly confines of

Burroughs’ Brian W. Hurst Gymnasium, where Tyler got his start


During his sophomore year, Tyler approached Burroughs girls’ Coach

Doug Nicol and asked if he could announce some games. Nicol

reluctantly agreed.

“Here was this skinny kid coming to me and asking if he could do

our games,” Nicol said. “I didn’t know if he could do it. He also

told me he wanted to be the next Chick Hearn.

“But I was amazed at how good he was. He came with his own trivia

questions and things like that. He really made the game enjoyable for

the fans.”

Nicol said he thinks Tyler will be a benefit to the Globetrotters.

“John is just a great guy who works very hard to be the best that

he can,” Nicol said. “He will fit in perfectly with the Globetrotters

and I know he will do a great job.

“But we also hate to lose him. He is part of our Burroughs


Tyler said he not only received a great deal of help about

basketball from Nicol, but was able to benefit from the guidance of

former assistant principal Brian Hurst.

“Mr. Hurst helped give me the confidence that I could really do

the job,” Tyler said. “He also helped me out and showed me what I was

doing right and what I needed to work on. I owe him a lot.”

Along with announcing high school basketball and football games,

Tyler has also worked collegiate ice hockey, professional

summer-league basketball, youth football and youth hockey contests.

He also worked a Philadelphia Flyers alumni game.

With a vast sports knowledge, Tyler said he is fortunate to be

working in an arena where he can hone his skills. However, like many

public-address announcers, Tyler hopes to make the jump to calling

play by play.

“I grew up listening to the Lakers’ Chick Hearn,” he said. “I

would love to one day become a play-by-play announcer. But for now, I

am very happy to be with the Harlem Globetrotters. It’s a great


That’s a Harlem Globetrotters’ organization with a .984 winning