Globetrotter plans to have a ball in Gwinnett homecoming

www.ajc.com

By: Howard Pousner

Published: March 13, 2015


Alex “Moose” Weekes wasn’t too sure about the nickname that was sticking by the time he joined the legendaryHarlem Globetrotters full time in 2013.

The 6-foot-8 power forward was known as a high-flyer when he was a starter on powerhouse Berkmar High School Patriots teams, before leading Middle Tennessee State University in blocks as a freshman in 2003-04. He had nicknames then, too, of course — predictable ones like “Slim,” “A.W.” or its inevitable variant “A-Dub.”

But when Weekes joined the ever-globetrotting squad of basketball showmen and showwomen, his teammates, noticing how his blown-out hairstyle took the shape of antlers when he was flying through the air, began calling out “Moose! Moose!”

The more he contested it — “I definitely don’t (look like a moose),” he mock-protested in one early interview. “I don’t smell like one either.” — the more it stuck.

Now in his third season with the Globetrotters — who bring their nicknames, athleticism, showmanship and high-spirited tomfoolery to Gwinnett Arena for two games  on March 14 — Weekes has come to fully embrace his utter moose-ness.

“A moose is known as being a large, powerful animal, some might say majestic. I would like to say that I fit that description,” the 30-year-old baller boasted from a recent Pennsylvania tour stop.

Also dubbed “The Hair Up There,” Weekes can’t wait for his homecoming.

“I’m finally coming home, it’s long overdue and I can’t wait to get crazy with the fans,” Weekes said, growing suddenly animated on an otherwise low-key rare day off. “It’s going to be a lot of high-flying dunks, great ball-handling. … (Fans) might jump right out of their seats. They gotta get loose with the Moose!”

Weekes, who makes his offseason home in Duluth, didn’t get to play due to injury when he visited Gwinnett with the Globetrotters once before. This time, the team is letting him switch units (the squad is split into three touring teams) so that he can finally perform for the home folks.

He said he was confident his new squad would be willing to yield some of the spotlight.

“They’re gonna make sure I get a chance to shine and they’re gonna shine right along with me,” Weekes said. “That’s how we do. We’re a big family. … Whenever somebody’s in their hometown, they don’t hesitate to share the court. They just give you the ball and let you go.”

Weekes didn’t grow up dreaming of playing for the Globetrotters. In fact, he questioned if they were really real when he first came across them as a kid, watching an episode of “Scooby-Doo” in which the basketball stars helped solve a case.

“I saw Curly Neal somehow get thrown through a goal with a basketball and thought, ‘Man, there’s no way this is real,’” Weekes recalled with a laugh. “And lo and behold, I found out that these guys really are doing this crazy stuff with the basketball.

“I always wanted to play professional basketball,” he continued. “And now, not only am I doing so, but I’m traveling the world, affecting the lives of our youth and creating memories that will last a lifetime.”

The natural-born promoter’s route to the team wasn’t a direct one, though.

Weekes departed Middle Tennessee State after two seasons and didn’t continue his collegiate career for reasons he doesn’t freely detail. He was working as a personal trainer when he got the opportunity to play in a charity game with former Globetrotters and NBA players and was awarded the most valuable player award. One of the ex-Globetrotters encouraged him to try out for the team.

Moose has been on the move ever since. By the end of this season, he said he will have visited every state in the U.S., not to mention an array of international stops.

On the road, he tries to keep up with his Atlanta Hawks (“a special group of guys”) by watching “SportsCenter.”

Another team Weekes keeps an eye on is the Washington Generals, the Globetrotters’ nightly competition. This season has been dubbed the “2015 Washington Generals’ Revenge Tour” in honor of these longtime foes opposing the Globetrotters for the first time in five years.

The Globetrotters last lost to the Generals in 1971, long before Moose was a calf. But Globetrotter promotional material warns that the “Generals are more determined than ever to match the franchise’s historic last victory.”

Given that he’s played, he guesses, a thousand games as a Globetrotter and hasn’t lost one yet, Weekes did not sound too concerned.

“Come one, come all and watch the Generals fall,” Moose announced confidently.

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