As far as Nate “Big Easy” Lofton is concerned, he has the best job in the world. He plays for the Harlem Globetrotters.
“Oh man, it’s one of the greatest feelings in life,” he said in a phone interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. “For two hours, no matter what’s going on in people’s lives, they come to sit down and forget about it. And they want to laugh. They want to have a good time. And there’s not many things you can do with your family — no matter if you’re 6 years old or 60 years old — that everybody can enjoy equally.”
Lofton and the rest of the Globetrotters will be in Salt Lake City on Monday, performing their brand of basketball magic and comedy at EnergySolutions Arena.
“I love coming to Salt Lake,” Lofton said. “We always have a great crowd. It’s a great basketball city.”
Big Easy and his pal, Herb “Flight Time” Lang, are, perhaps, the most identifiable Globetrotters these days thanks to their participation on the CBS reality/competition series “The Amazing Race.” They’ve already raced twice, and they’re in the cast of the upcoming all-stars season that premieres on Sunday, Feb. 23.
“We are definitely excited to do it again,” Lofton said, adding that the only tough part is another month away from their families in addition to all the traveling the Globetrotters do. “But it wasn’t a tough decision to go back. We enjoy the show and we enjoy the people that work on the show. The people that work behind the scenes are real good people. It’s like family now. We have fun every time we do it.”
The fact that they are clearly having fun as they compete on “Amazing Race” has made the pair fan favorites. But that’s just Big Easy and Flight Time.
“No matter what we’re doing on court or in life, me and Flight Time always like to have a good time,” Lofton said.
That hasn’t always been easy. Lofton and his family lost everything when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. They were evacuated to Houston, where the former Southeast Louisiana basketball star’s life turned around.
The Globetrotters did a charity event in Houston for evacuees, and Lofton got a tryout. He was signed to the team that same day.
“Oh man, that was the greatest thing that could have happened to me,” he said. “It was, like, OK, now you’ve got a chance to provide for your family and go around the world and make people happy. It was unbelievable.
“I’ve been to 75 countries in nine years. It’s a blessing. I look forward to playing every night.”
And he particularly looks forward to interacting with fans.
“That’s something that person will never forget,” he said. “I’m happy to be a part of this great tradition that’s been around for 80 years. Being on that court and looking at the kids’ faces light up, it’s priceless.”
When • Monday, 7 p.m.
Where • EnergySolutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $20-$130, available at the box office, at all SmithsTix locations and online at smithstix.com.