It’s hard to believe that the Harlem Globetrotters have been on The Amazing Race on three separate seasons. Herb “Flight Time” Lang and Nate “Big Easy” Lofton are two of the most popular racers of all-time and have used their positive attitudes and athleticisms to become household names for most fans of the show. On the All-Stars edition of the program, Flight Time and Big Easy were the sixth team to be eliminated from the show after arriving at Rome’s Piazza Del Duomo in last place. I caught up with the pair to chat about what went wrong.
Murtz Jaffer: Hey guys how are you?
Herbert “Flight Time” Lang: Hey I’m doing good man, how are you?
MJ: Good, it has been awhile! When you first saw the teams that have been selected for All Stars who did you think your biggest competition was going to be?
FT: When I first saw the teams, I thought it would be the teams with the most experience. I was thinking definitely the Cowboys and probably Luke and Margie.
MJ: Were you surprised that there were so many teams there that were competing for a third time?
FT: I don’t know if I can say surprised. I know everybody loves the Cowboys and then I figured if we were coming back then they definitely they were as well. As for Luke and Margie, I was surprised but I can’t say I was really surprised because they were a team that a lot of people really liked too.
MJ: Was the complication a little harder this year or do you think that it was relatively the same all three times in terms of the other teams?
Nate “Big Easy” Lofton: I think the competition, you never know what it is because you don’t race against anybody else, you race against yourself. No matter what the other teams are doing, you still have to get your breaks, get your luck and do what you have to do. So the competition to us is always the same because we don’t know what the competition is. We are our own competition.
MJ: This was your third time on the Amazing Race. Did you ever think that you and Flight Time would be on the show three times?
BE: No. It is a pleasure. It’s an honor to be on it 3 times. I didn’t think (when we sent our first video in) that we were going to get picked. So to be on it three times and to have run the most legs of the race that anybody in the history of the show has ever run, it means a lot to us. That is a win in itself.
MJ: You narrowly missed being eliminated last week by beating John and Jessica in a footrace at the finish line. How important is it to be athletic on the Amazing Race?
FT: It definitely takes a lot of athleticism for a lot of the challenges that we do, but at the same time it takes smarts to complete the challenges. That was just an example of us being athletes and being in decent shape and able to outrun Jessica and John. I mean Jessica, she actually outran her fiancé! We actually had no idea that she was behind us and were jogging until she showed up.
MJ: It didn’t seem like you guys were in a big rush to get to the Pit Stop near the end of this leg. How far behind the other teams were you and when did you know that it was probably your time to go?
BE: We figured we were maybe an hour and half behind just because it took that long from building the donkey toy on that challenge and we didn’t know. We were hopeful that it was a non-elimination leg, but we knew we were going to be at the end no matter what. We wanted to make sure to have fun and enjoy ourselves all the way to the end. It never mattered if we were first or last.
MJ: When do you think the hardest roadblock of the season was?
FT: Probably I would say the hardest roadblock of the season was when Big Easy had to sew the shirt in Sri Lanka. I mean that was definitely a tough challenge! I’m glad I didn’t have to do it but it was definitely tough to have to watch him complete the challenge.
MJ: Last week, the Afghanimals decided to help you with the answer to the number of Spanish Steps in exchange for you not U-Turning them on the next leg. If you had arrived at the detour before them on this leg, would you have stuck with the deal?
FT: Definitely. I mean we had no intention of ever U-Turning anybody unless it was a situation like it was on Season 18 where we felt like we were the next to the last team and felt like we needed to save ourselves. That would be the only situation where we could ever consider using the U-Turn. We would never do something like be the first team to get to the U-Turn and then use it just for the sake of using it.
MJ: You switched tasks from riding the donkey to building the donkey a couple of times. Because of your size, was it tough to find a donkey to ride?
BE: No my size had nothing to do with it. The donkey I got on didn’t want to go and Flight Time got on the same donkey so it had nothing to do with my size. When we went back there were more donkeys to choose from.
MJ: In general, how often was your height an issue when completing roadblocks and detours?
BE: My height was an issue only once and it was when we had to rappel down the waterfall but it didn’t hinder anything else along the race.
MJ: With regard to building the donkey, how much did it hurt you to not have other teams around? The Afghanimals also couldn’t figure out that it was the crates, but luckily for them, Dave and Connor told them what it was.
BE: That’s part of the game. If you are with the pack and teams can help each out, I think they should. That’s how we race. It definitely hurt us. If those guys didn’t help them they would have had to go back and do the donkey challenge also. It’s part of the race and I’m happy that everybody was helping each other.
MJ: What was a bigger surprise? Rachel and Brendon U-Turning Dave and Connor or Dave and Connor helping the Afghanimals, even after U-Turning them?
BE: I will say neither because it just made sense. Rachel and Brandon tried to win first place on that leg so they had to U-Turn the team that was in second. Dave and Connor are nice guys, so I can imagine they didn’t want any ill will from the Afghanimals so they said ‘hey, we U-Turned you but we are going to help you any way.’
FT: Neither one of them came as a surprise because with Rachel and Brandon and Dave and Conner… a couple of legs before that you could see a little bit of tension that a lot of people probably see on television as well between the two teams. I mean even at the detour where they were filling up gas, there were a couple of arguments. When we were driving the chariots, I think that they felt like Rachel and Brandon were intentionally crashing them, causing them to have to stay longer at the detours. So I was not really surprised to see it. And to see Dave and Conner help the Afghanimals… I wasn’t surprised to see that either because the thing about the race is that as long as you know you have a team or two behind you, you will help another team be safe because you never know what you will need that team to help you again.
MJ: Caroline and Jenn seem to really be relying on other teams to get through the tasks. Does it bother you at all that they are still in it and you aren’t?
FT: It doesn’t bother me at all. I mean the only thing that I was a little bit bothered by was that we were hoping for another non-elimination leg but you know those non-elimination legs are already predetermined before we start the race and we just happened to come in last place at the wrong time.
MJ: The first time you raced, you finished fourth. The second time you race you finished second. This time, you finished in sixth. Was there something different about this season that made it tougher?
BE: No. Actually the season where we finished in 2nd was actually our toughest season, if you ask me or Flight Time. It’s just one of those days where luck wasn’t our lady and she just didn’t go our way. But hey, we are not going to make any excuses. It just didn’t happen, it wasn’t our time.
FT: I definitely don’t think this was the toughest season. I think Season 18 was the toughest season that we ever raced. This was probably one of the easier seasons., I would say as far as the challenges went. Season 15 were pretty tough but personally I don’t think it was as tough as Season 18 or this one. I mean this time we just could never really find our way to the front. At the airports, we could never really get through customs in time for us to get a lead. I mean taxis went the wrong way a couple of times (costing us a couple of positions in a couple of legs) but we had as much fun this time as we did the first couple of times.
MJ: This season, you seemed to have a really relaxed approach and really just seemed like you wanted to promote the Globetrotter brand. Was that your motivation for going back?
BE: No. (Laughs). The Globetrotters is the most famous organization in the world and it has been around for 80 years like we don’t have to promote them at all. They don’t need our help to do that at all. This season was like the last, or any other season we have been on. You just saw us chilling and having fun.
We didn’t get into any issues or nothing along the way, so what you saw was what you really saw, you saw us. You saw Nate and you saw Herb (who just happen to be Big Easy and Flight Time).
FT: We wanted to win but at the same time we wanted to represent ourselves, we wanted to represent our families as well as our organization. Some of the people do the race and that’s all they do. They race and they it is over. We actually get to go around the world and meet our fans who come to see us each and every night in the arena. I mean it is definitely important for us to have a good time and represent the brand at the same time.
MJ: And this time did you just generally have more fun? It just seemed like you and Flight Time were just having more fun this year. You were still competitive but were more about the experience than winning.
BE: No, we wanted to win. We definitely had more fun this time and more camera time because we were at the back of the race. That is probably why everybody seemed to think that we were there for that. But definitely there were good times that we enjoyed and I think it was just as much fun as any other time but we enjoyed ourselves.
MJ: Do you guys travel with the basketball the entire time you were on the show?
FT: Yeah we always have a basketball each and every time we were on The Amazing Race. We always have a deflated basketball and we have a small air pump so anytime we need to bring the basketball out, we’ll get the air pump and we’ll do what we gotta do.
MJ: And I always hang out with Meghan and Cheyne, anything to say to them?
BE: Tell them I say hey. They are good people. We loved Cheyne and Meghan. They hit us up when the season started, real good guys. They are probably the toughest racers that I have ever seen.
FT: Yeah, I mean I talk to Meghan and Cheyne every now and then via Facebook or Twitter. We have a very good relationship with most of the teams that we have raced with.
MJ: What’s next for you?
BE: I am a grown child that is my day job. I have the best job in the world. I’ve been to 75 countries in 9 years and going into my 10th year. I’m getting married in June and that is my focus right now.
FT: I have no idea what is next right now. I’m in Hawaii and still on tour. We got here a couple of days ago and we are planning here this weekend so I’m just kicking back for the next couple of days and enjoying the sun until the next 5 games. We have been on tour since Christmas. I was just up in your area, Toronto, a couple of weeks ago…
MJ: I know we missed each other because I had to go to that Reality Rally charity event. And the last question… is it hard not doing the tour and Globetrotter stuff with Big Easy because you guys are now always on separate tours so that each city gets to at least see one of The Amazing Race Globetrotters.
FT: Right I mean that is absolutely the truth. After our first season on The Amazing Race, we did the tour together and we had two tours at the same time and at half of the arenas, neither one of us was there. So the 2nd time that we did it, they decided to split us up because they didn’t want fans complaining that one of us wasn’t there.
We still make time to hang out with each other when the tour is over with. We usually take a trip to Vegas during the summer. This summer Big Easy is getting married so I got a chance to go down to Miami and take part in that.
MJ: Amazing hopefully we’ll get to see you at the finale in Vegas in a couple of weeks. Thank you so much man good to talk to you again.
FT: Alright, thank you.
BE: Thank you, have a good one.
Tags: murtz, Murtz Jaffer, The Amazing Race