The internationally acclaimed Harlem Ambassadors basketball team is headed to Payson and its all for a good cause.
The appearance, on April 30 in Wilson Dome, will benefit parks and recreation activities and fund scholarships for Gila Community College students.
Helping raise money for non-profits and service organizations is nothing new for the Harlem-style basketball team known for high-flying slam-dunks, dazzling ball handling and comedy routines.
Over the years, the team has worked with Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, American Red Cross, Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis raising millions of dollars for towns and communities across America.
Andria Simons, director of client and media relations for the Ambassadors, says the team performs about 250 fund-raising games each season, September to May.
Just weeks before the team’s appearance in Payson, it will play games in Chickasha, Okla., Atchison, Kan., Wellsville, N.Y. and Sudbury, Ontario.
“The Ambassadors have played in all 50 states and 20 countries,” said Simons.
The team has performed over the years in Germany, England, Iceland, Korea, Hungary, Puerto Rico and other countries.
Simons lauds the team’s character saying all the members have played college basketball and have university degrees in fields ranging from exercise science to counseling rehabilitation. “Kids can look up to the Ambassadors as great role models who are college-educated and drug free.”
Simons calls their games, “Quality family entertainment for audiences of all ages from kids to kids-at-heart.”
In addition to the audience enjoying the Ambassadors’ comedy routine, children and others can participate in interactive games between quarters and at halftime.
Ambassadors coach Ladé Majic welcomes children with open arms, “We invite as many kids as we can to come sit on the bench, have a front row seat and get involved in all of the fun stuff we do.”
Majic is a 5-foot-7-inch guard, coach and show person who played at the University of Missouri.
After the Ambassadors professional show basketball team was founded in 1997 by professional sports manager and entrepreneur Dale Moss, he went looking for a figure to direct the operation.
In his search, he found Ladé Majic playing professionally in Israel and signed her to a contract in 1998.
On the floor, Majic’s role is to provide comic relief, which often includes aggravating the referees.
While comedy is the name of the game, the Ambassadors will also have some good size on the roster when they take to the floor with Brandan Harris (6 feet, 9-inches), Jerome Robinson (6 feet, 7-inches) and Derick Echols (6 feet, 4-inches).
Harris played at Tiffin University, Robinson at Elmhurst College and Echols at Oklahoma Baptist University.
While in Payson, the Ambassadors will play vs. four different Payson teams. Each team will play one quarter.
Locals interested in playing against the Ambassadors should download an application from the Web site: www.paysonparks.com. Click on “Special Events” to find the application.
Tickets to the game, which tips off at 7 p.m., are $5 per person in advance and $7 at the door. Children under 5 years will be admitted free. Tickets can be purchased at the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism office at Green Valley Park or the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.