HomeHow The Brady Bunch Led To Inkster’s Barry Hardy’s Career With The Harlem Globetrotters

How The Brady Bunch Led To Inkster’s Barry Hardy’s Career With The Harlem Globetrotters

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  • photo courtesy
  • Barry Hardy.

In 1972, The Brady Bunch Visit Honolulu, on a three-ring arc, featuring a surfing competition, hula lessons, and Vincent Price as a crazy architect.

A few years later, in co-promotion, those episodes found young Barry Hardy, in his childhood home of Inkster.

“While watching that TV show, I fell in love with Hawaii,” says Hardy, who graduated in 1993 from Brigham Young University in Hawaii. I said to myself “One day I’m going to Hawaii. One day I’m going to college in Hawaii.”

Hardy, who played four years in BYU-Hawaii basketball and stayed an extra year with the program as a graduate assistant, who spent the greater part of his life working with the Harlem Globetrotters, more or less likened his journey to BYU-Hawaii, an almost divine intervention.

“I went to Florida International for a visit, but it was too late[to sign up],” Hardy says. “The day I was there, the phone rang and he was a Hawaiian coach. When he (the coach) got off the phone, he said to me “How do you want to go to school in Hawaii?” Their coach is looking for some players.”

For Hardy, who describes his upbringing in Inkster as “challenging” and who would become the first in his family to earn a college degree, basketball was a gateway to a better life.

But the game did not come naturally to him.

“I didn’t have formal training,” Hardy says. I never went to camps; I cut in the ninth grade. In middle school, I was one of the last names to be called; I remember the girls made the team before me.

Hardy continues, “It was just something I did for fun. I had big dreams of doing something, but I didn’t know what.”

As he got older and physically mature, Hardy began doing something better than anyone else in his high school: jumping.

“Informally, I think (my vertical jump) hit 52 inches,” Hardy says. “I always wondered, why can’t everyone do this? At the time it seemed so simple.”

Hardy reached the campus in Lae with an official 48-inch vertical jump. He was a player with a lot of progress, but he wasn’t polished.

“I was one of those people who could touch the ceiling, but I couldn’t shoot the ball,” Hardy recalls. “(BYU-Hawaii coach) Chic Hess calls himself an injection doctor. He developed my jump shot and worked on it every day.”

At BYU-Hawaii, Hardy was a four-time writer, leading the team all the way to the NAIA Final Four.

Having made a name for himself at several dunk competitions throughout college, Hardy was noticed by the famous Globetrotters – a show basketball team that combines comedy, theater and basketball.

“I got invited to a training camp,” Hardy says. “On the first day, I did a windmill immersion and put my arm inside the rim. The place went nuts. The owner came and made me a show that evening.”

From 1993 until 1999, Hardy performed for the team under the nickname “High Rise”.

As a rider, Hardy played about 100 games a year and, along with daily practices, are spread across countless countries.

For Hardy, the most memorable moment came in South Africa.

“We played against Nelson Mandela,” Hardy says. My name is said, Nice to meet you, Barry. I thought that was the coolest thing. Makes me feel special.”

In August 1999, Hardy took his Business Administration and Marketing degree, and moved to the position of Marketing Director. In 2009 he became the Artistic Director of Globetrotters.

“Phil Jackson couldn’t do what I do,” Hardy says, laughing. “We play basketball, but it’s a mixture of basketball and show. It’s hard to tell when one happens and one doesn’t. As a coach, you have to spend a lot of time with the entertainment part, because our players come from live basketball backgrounds.”

“He emphasized handling the ball with all of his players,” Globetrotter legend Lou Dunbar said. “Barry is creative; we do a lot of things through trial and error. You could tell he loves the game and loves being around the Globetrotters.”

Last January, Hardy secured a promotion with the organisation, to move from his coaching role to vice president of player development and tours.

“This was a great opportunity,” Hardy says. “I’ve always wanted to be in business. I’m living out my dreams now.”

“Barry took a different route,” Dunbar says. “It fits anywhere; once as a passenger, it’s always a trot.”

Brand building is one of Hardy’s newfound responsibilities within the organization.

“When I first came, we were in bankruptcy,” Hardy recalls. “During the rebuilding process, we lost two generations of fans. Different owners had different visions. The last owner was a hedge fund company, and it was all about finances for them; it wasn’t about brand growth.”

Hardy sees putting team history front and center as the key to the brand.

“This thing has been around for 95 years,” Hardy says. “We are the original. We brought what people see in the NBA outside before the league. A lot of the credit goes to the ‘Dream Team’ but they don’t realize the power the Globetrotters have. We average about three million fans a year; I think we’ll double that.” If people really knew history.”

As has been the case everywhere, the Globetrotters were not immune to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been hit hard, we’ve been on vacation for 16 months,” Hardy says. “We took it very seriously from the start; we have people to protect them. Not just our players but our fans. It affected us so badly on the business side, but it gave us a chance to rethink everything. We want to be in the stores, on TV, on social media. So it gave us time to re-launch things.”

A backpacker’s life wasn’t always easy, but for Hardy, it’s the life he’s always wanted.

“It’s so rewarding because I know where I started and where I come from,” Hardy says. “I look back and I am so grateful. Everything I have been through has made me feel who I am today and where I am going.”

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