As a star of the Siena Saints he was known to fans as Tay Fisher, the player who shot 44.4 percent from three-point range and helped the team drive to regular and postseason MAAC titles.
When he returns to the area now, though, he’s known as Firefly.
“I’m one of the shortest on the team and they say I light it up real quick on the court. That’s why they call me Firefly,” said Fisher.
Fisher is a Harlem Globetrotter and in the middle of this third season with the world-renowned team. He’ll return to the Capital District on Sunday, Feb. 5, for a show at the Times Union Center and he said he’s excited to see his fans again.
“Every year, I feel like I show them something new. I feel like I get better and better every year. I’m excited to come back and I’m hoping they all come out and keep supporting me like they have been,” said Fisher.
Fisher’s path to the unconventional basketball team, known for its tricks, acrobatics and comedy instead of winning championship games, wasn’t something he planned.
“I always wanted to play professional ball, that’s a lot of player’s goals,” said Fisher. “I just never thought it would have been the Harlem Globetrotters. Not only do you have to be a basketball player but you have to have that charisma, personality and entertainment skills.”
Though he always saw himself as part of the NBA or playing professional basketball in Europe, now that he’s a Globetrotter the role fits perfectly.
“I’ve always been a basketball player first and pretty much a comedian on and off the court, so I feel like this plays right into my hands,” said Fisher.
The team drafted Fisher in 2008 and since then it’s been all about practice, practice and more practice.
“I wasn’t able to do anything but put the ball in the hole, pretty much the thing you’re able to do as basketball player and what people want you to do. Ball handling and tricks I’m able to do now but it just came with practice,” said Fisher.
And even though he’s now known for his spectacular dribbling skills and connection with the audience, playing with the Harlem Globetrotters isn’t so different than playing with the Siena Saints.
“It’s the same because I’m still competitive; instead of competing against another team I’m competing against myself because I’m trying to make myself better as a basketball player and an entertainer,” said Fisher.
He’s living an exciting life that takes him all over the globe but “coming home” to the Capital District is always a special experience for him.
“I’m on the road pretty much year-round so any time I’m able to come home and perform in front of people … it’s is a good thing because I’m able to bring memories and young kids are able to keep my name in the area like I want it to be, so people can follow my career,” said Fisher.
He said he hopes his success inspires his fans to follow their dreams.
“Anything can be done … I’m just fortunate to be in the situation many people don’t get the opportunity to do,” said Fisher.
Siena Head Coach Mitch Buonaguro said it’s always a thrill when Fisher returns for a show.
“He’s such a popular figure in the community, when he was here as a player and obviously now in his professional career,” said Buonaguro. “When he comes back … he draws a big audience and they like seeing him and he has a real affinity to this area.”
Now he speaks, works at an art camp and runs a basketball camp but even as a student at Siena, Buonaguro said Fisher seemed to know his role in the community was about more than winning games.
“When he was a student athlete here he epitomized what a student athlete should be, not only from an academic and basketball point of view, but he understood his responsibility to the community,” said Buonaguro. “Being a member of the Globetrotters, which is kind of an organization that their philosophy is you have to be very congenial and very community oriented, he fits it perfectly.”
Fisher and the Globetrotters will be at the Times Union Center Sunday, Feb. 5, at 1 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.harlemglobetrotters.com, www.ticketmaster.com, the box office or by calling 800-745-3000.