Little hoopsters: Small people bring different approach to playing basketball

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—The Tiny Trotters work out at the Mesa Lodge on Horizon Dr.Art to go with Kent’s story.Sent as TINY TROTTERS 10-5 3.

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—The Tiny Trotters work out at the Mesa Lodge on Horizon Dr.Art to go with Kent’s story.Sent as TINY TROTTERS 10-5 3.

The Harlem Globetrotters live up to their name,  criss-crossing the world to entertain millions of fans with their version of basketball fun.

So do the Tiny Trotters.

“We do places the Globetrotters wouldn’t do,” said Eddie Dean, the Tiny Totters’ manager.

His team of six players, five men and one woman, are touring the Western Slope this week with their unique brand of basketball.

What differentiates this team is that it is made up entirely of little people.

Billed as the world’s smallest basketball team, the Tiny Trotters are based out of South Carolina. Dean founded the team 20 years ago in New York City, patterning it after that of a friend of his from Canada.

“We started going to the hood, hustling games anywhere we could,” Dean said.

They made a little money here and there and began making a bit of a name for themselves.

Soon they started touring, playing in charity games. That’s been the routine ever since.

Saturday they will play an all-star team from the Grand Junction Elks Lodge at 7 p.m. at Central High School.

The Tiny Trotters have played in 33 states, plus Canada and the Bahamas.

The key component is fun.

“We wants smiles on the faces of people,” Dean said.

That’s not to say they don’t take the game seriously. In their 20 years, they’ve played more than 2,200 games and, by unofficial count, have lost only 11.

“We don’t cheat, but we may bend the rules a little,” Dean said.

Turbo (the only name he goes by) is one of two players to have been with the team for all 20 years.

“It was a good thing when I got hooked up with (Dean),” Turbo said.

Turbo, originally from Queens, N.Y., gets some of his greatest pleasure from visiting schools.

As a little person, he was not immune to teasing and bullying from fellow students while growing up.

“Even with my size I knew I could protect myself,” he said.

“When we’re out in the schools, we give it a positive thing,” Turbo said of the message the team tries to send about acceptance. “There’s more (to this team) than just basketball.”

The Tiny Totters also visit hospitals and community organizations.

They’ve gained a small amount of fame by making a cameo in the movie “Ankle Biters” and have appeared on the Maury Povich Show twice.

Sometimes life on the road can be tedious, but the players try to make the best of it.

“That’s my little family,” Turbo said of traveling and playing with his best friends.

Tickets for Saturday’s game at Central are on sale through the Elks Lodge by calling 243-7555 or 243-0675. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

Dean guarantees the crowd will be entertained by the team’s antics and amazed by its basketball skills. Night after night, Tiny Trotters earn a living doing what they truly enjoy.

“There ain’t nothing more fun than doing this,” Turbo said.


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