What is it like playing basketball against former President Barack Obama? How does a kid from Harrisburg end up playing for the Harlem Globetrotters? What do Jay-Z, LeBron James and Obama have in common?

Harrisburg’s own Chris “Handles” Franklin joined The Sports Extra Podcast this week to talk about his career with the Harlem Globetrotters. The Susquehanna Township High School graduate set the dream to play for the Globetrotters when he was six, and now he lives that dream every day.

He holds a world record, has played basketball in all 50 states and 84 countries, and achieved that dream he set back in 1978 (20:59).


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How he got to Globetrotters

Franklin was a standout player for Susquehanna Twp HS under head coach Bill Gaffey and holds that relationship in high regard.

“He taught me that education was very important,” Handles said in a previous interview. “He wouldn’t let me play when my grades were poor, and that lesson changed my thought process.”

He went on to play college basketball at Lock Haven where he graduated with a degree in social work. The Harrisburg native continued his education by receiving a master’s degree in social work at Pitt.

At Lock Haven, the star player became No. 2 in all-time assists, and ranked in the top 10nationally in assists and steals twice.

When he graduated college, Franklin sent his basketball tape to the Globetrotters in hopes of playing for the team after college.

It didn’t work out the first time around, but Franklin managed to land a deal with Nike appearing in commercials from 2000 to 2004.

The “Freestyle” commercials found world-wide success. Through Nike, Franklin was introduced to LeBron James, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and many of basketball’s greatest stars.

It was after those advertisements that the Globetrotters started to pursue Franklin. The rest was history.

Handles has never left the Midstate and still gives back to his community through his foundation, building basketball courts for kids and recently helping the community get vaccinated.

In the episode

Handles shares his memories of playing basketball at the White House with President Barack Obama (40:45), what it was like to play overseas during the Iraq War (33:41) and his message to young students who have big dreams (41:00).

Also in this week’s episode, the podcast squad contemplates whether fans have completely lost their minds and where the sports world goes from here.

Meet the voices behind the podcast: Allie Berube and Logan Reever. The Sports Extra Podcast is designed to bring listeners closer to the games, teams and athletes they love. The podcast will dive deeper than the hosts can go on TV.

The Sports Extra Podcast will release episodes every Thursday and will range in sports topics. The goal is to talk about national sports with a local flair. Allie & Logan plan to bring in guests each week to share their perspectives on sports.

You can catch The Sports Extra Podcast presented by abc27 starting April 22nd. The team drops new episodes every Thursday. Listen wherever you get your podcasts or right here on abc27.com.