Kooper Glick has been to the other side of the world to play basketball since the Harlem Globetrotters shut down because of COVID nearly two years ago, but he’s thrilled to be back playing in his native land.
The 2015 Columbus North graduate plays for the Washington Generals, which plays games against the world-famous Globetrotters on tours. They’ll play at 7 p.m. Saturday at Louisville’s KFC Yum Center, 12:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and 2 p.m. Monday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
“When I was in college and high school, my mom or my dad always made it to the games,” Glick said. “It’s been an adjustment not seeing any familiar faces in the crowd, so it will be nice to see some people at Gainbridge. I saw LeBron James play there and Steph Curry play there this year, and to think I get to be on the same court within a couple months, that’s pretty cool.”
Glick, who played college basketball at Rock Valley (Illinois), Barry University and Emporia State, joined the Globetrotters organization in the fall of 2019 and played with the Generals on tours in Florida and throughout the Midwest and East.
But the Globetrotters suspended operations in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID pandemic and didn’t resume until September 2021 when Glick played with the Generals on a tour through the South.
In the middle of the time when the Globetrotters were shut down, Glick headed to Armenia to play in October and November 2020.
“I had the opportunity to do that before I was with the Generals, and I decided to do that,” Glick said. “Once COVID hit, I asked my agent if they were playing and if COVID was a big deal over there. It was a crazy experience because when I got over there, they had just started a war with Azerbajan, and there were Russian KGB agents in the airport. They were asking me who I was and why I was there. They said I had to stay in my hotel room.”
In the Armenian league, teams are allowed to have only three Americans on the court and four on the team. Most of the rest are Armenian.
“We couldn’t really talk to them because the Armenian players couldn’t really speak English,” Glick said. “I really liked playing over there, but it just didn’t work out for me. The country was putting all their money into the war, so I never got paid.It’s really wishy-washy over there. They try to take advantage of Americans. But I’m thankful I got to play over there, even with the pandemic going on.”
Between the war, the language barrier and not getting paid, Glick had enough after a couple months.
“Some of the Americans stayed over there to get their careers started,” Glick said. “But I wanted to get back with the Generals whenever they started playing again, anyway, so I just said ‘Forget it,’ and came home.”
Glick spent the first part of 2021 working with his brothers Coleman and Sawyer for their father Rory at his funeral home, Barkes Weaver Glick.
“I tried to stay in shape because I didn’t know when the Globetrotters were going to go back on tour,” Glick said.
That came last fall. The Globetrotters and Generals each downsized from three teams to two. What was formerly a Red, White and Blue tour, now is just Red and White tours. Red is doing a western tour, and White, which includes Glick, is doing a Midwest and Eastern tour.
The organization is planning international tours in the summer and fall to Europe, South America and Australia, and Glick hopes to be a part of one of those.
“I’m sticking with this because the people in the organization are awesome people,” Glick said. “It means a lot that they care a lot about the people in the company.”
Glick’s current tour started when he flew to Pittsburgh on Christmas Day and had a game there on Dec. 26. He’s had only one day off since then while playing in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Missouri and Illinois
“It’s a lot of fun,” Glick said. “I’m looking forward to keep doing this while I’m in my 20s, while I’m young. I have so much passion for basketball. I don’t really have the coaching bug yet, but I know that I love basketball so much that I might want to do that when I’m done playing. I’m just not real sure yet.”