Curly Neal is a little cranky and quite tired as he gets ready to tuck into a plate of bacon, eggs and waffles in a downtown restaurant late one recent morning. It’s been, almost seven hours since he woke up in Montreal and about 11 hours before he’ll call it a night in London.

Even for the irrepressible and iconic Harlem Globetrotter, that’s a heavy day of travel, media obligations and being “on,” but when you’re Curly Neal discontent isn’t put on public display, no matter the circumstances.

So when the four guys of a certain age at a table across the way recognize the bald head and the smile, it’s time for the 67-year-old Neal to go to work.

“Saw you in Worcester when I was a kid,” one of the gawkers says as he approaches the table.

“Oh yeah,” says Neal, rising to shake hands. “Worcester. Great city. Glad to see you. Come on out and see us when we’re here.”

The gentlemen move on, filled undoubtedly with memories of Neal, Meadowlark Lemon, buckets of confetti, Red Klotz and basketball as pure entertainment.

“Guys like them recognize Curly everywhere,” says current Globetrotter Moo Moo Evans. “And the first thing they say is, ‘When you guys playing, I’ve got to bring my son, I’ve got to bring my daughter.’ Everyone remembers him.”

And as if a switch has been turned on, Neal’s off, telling stories and selling the current version of the legendary Globetrotters, as enduring a sports entity as exists in the world today.

“We need more laughs in this world,” says Neal, whose Globetrotters make a swing through Oshawa, Mississauga and Kitchener this next week. “Everybody’s all stressed out. Have some fun, have a sense of humour.”

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