By Michael Schiavetta (M.A. '07)
Most basketball players measure success by points on the scoreboard. For Kirk “Zeus” Stewart (B.S. ’08), it’s also about smiles in the audience.
As one of the newest members of the Harlem Globetrotters, Stewart clearly knows a thing or two about basketball. During his career with the NYIT Bears, the 6’ 7” Brooklyn, N.Y., native averaged 8.5 points per game and had 87 assists, 45 blocks, and 33 steals in 55 games played. In his senior year, he earned All-ECC second team honors and was named Player of the Week after a career-high 27 points against Stonehill College. As a junior, he appeared in all 29 games for the Bears, finished third on the team with 9.6 points and 4.2 boards per game, while earning All-ECC third team accolades.
Now Stewart is proud to be part of one of basketball’s greatest franchises. The Globetrotters are more than just a team—they are a sports legacy with an all-star roster that has included legendary players Fred “Curly” Neal, Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, George “Meadowlark” Lemon, and Reece “Goose” Tatum. Renowned for their showmanship and incredible tricks on and off the court, the Globetrotters have dazzled audiences in more than 100 countries since 1926 and posted more than 22,000 wins (mostly against the luckless Washington Generals) throughout their 85-year history.
For Stewart, becoming a Globetrotter came with incredible expectations. “When you come in and put that uniform on, you know who also wore it,” he says. “As a result, you seek perfection in yourself.”
Charisma is a vital quality as well, and is something that Stewart says comes naturally to him. “We’re in the business of selling smiles,” the NYIT alumnus says. “When you see how naturally charismatic the other players are, it rubs off on you. It’s non-stop fun.”
As a Globetrotter, Stewart’s typical day includes bus rides, hotel stays, and five hours of practice with his teammates. In addition, he always keeps a ball by his side so he can practice tricks and other maneuvers. He earned the nickname “Zeus” for his powerful dunking technique and muscular physique.
And when he’s not performing in front of audiences to the tune of “Sweet Georgia Brown,” Stewart participates in the team’s C.H.E.E.R. program that helps children build character and encourages healthy behavior.
“We all do our part by serving as ambassadors and visiting children’s hospitals, too,” he says.
Following the Globetrotters’ training camp in September, Stewart traveled to France as part of a European tour that included stops in France, Poland, and U.S. military bases. He joined his teammates again for an American tour that kicked off Dec. 26. He returns to the New York City area in February for a string of games at Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, and the IZOD Center.
The reality of playing in front of his family, friends, and former classmates as a Harlem Globetrotter is still sinking in for Stewart. “Putting smiles on faces and seeing how kids and families react,” he says. “It’s a dream come true.”
For information on how to get discounted tickets to Stewart’s Globetrotter appearances in February, please call the NYIT Department of Athletics at 516.686.7504.