'Zeus' McClurkin shows off his world-famous dunks and talks about bullying

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Julian Zeus McClurkin of the Harlem Globetrotters impresses the assembly at Fir Grove Elementary, during a talk on anti-bullying.“Dunk it! Dunk it! Dunk it!”

That chant bounced off the walls of the old gymnasium at Fir Grove Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon before Julian “Zeus” McClurkin easily rose up and jammed a basketball through a hoop.

The dunk punctuated a surprise visit from the Harlem Globetrotters member, who already had shown his prowess by spinning and bumping and juggling the ball in front of an appreciative crowd, and also talked to the kids about how to stop bullying.

McClurkin said he knows something about being bullied, and he certainly knows something about dunking. He set the Guinness World Record for dunking 15 times in one minute last November.TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Julian Zeus McClurkin of the Harlem Globetrotters dunks during an assembly at Fir Grove Elementary.

“They say every time I dunk, it sounds like thunder,” he said, explaining how he earned his nickname.

McClurkin was serving as the “advance ambassador” to promote the Globetrotters’ two games at the Moda Center in Portland this Saturday, and to support their program, The ABCs of Bullying Prevention.

He told the students that he too had been bullied and that they could handle incidents using those ABCs: Action, Bravery and Compassion.

“The best thing to do in a bullying situation is to tell an adult or to tell a teacher,” he said during the assembly.

McClurkin, 29, also encouraged students to show perseverance and be true to themselves. He told them that he repeatedly was cut from basketball teams until his senior year of high school.

“I drank a whole lot of milk and I grew five inches over the summer,” said the 6-foot-8 Globetrotter.

Still, McClurkin, who also is a minister, said he was often told he was too nice to be a competitive basketball player.“Today, I get paid to smile and dunk,” he said, flashing a big grin.

Before his introduction, McClurkin said that his ambassador role has taken him across the country and throughout the world over the past year.

“I love it,” he said. “You kind of feel like you’re making a difference in these kids’ lives.”

COURTESY OF ERICA MARSON - Fir Grove Elementary Principal Erica Marson sent this captioned photo to the Harlem Globetrotters to help convince the team to send a member to her school.
Fir Grove Principal Erica Marson also knows something about making a difference in kids’ lives — and perseverance.

When she learned the Globetrotters were coming to Portland, she set about trying to convince their marketing department to send a team member to her Beaverton school, where well over half of students come from low-income families.

“I just felt that my kids wouldn’t be able to enjoy that” show, due to the cost of tickets. “If my kids can’t go to a Harlem Globetrotters event, I’m going to bring them in.”

Marson said special events like McClurkin’s visit give her kids a chance to see life’s possibilities — and also apply them to academic lessons, such as writing assignments students will base on the assembly.

Marson kept after the Globetrotters’ staff until they promised to send a player.

And it certainly didn’t hurt Fir Grove’s chances that Marson sent a photo of herself with a basketball and captioned it, “GLOBETROT’N PRINCIPAL.”

“It was worth a thousand words because it worked,” she said.

By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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