Suppose it’s the same way with Santa Claus.

It’s hard to be a Harlem Globetrotter and not like kids.

Geese Ausbie, the featured speaker at Monday’s Arkansas Sports Club luncheon, combines a little of both.

During 23 years with the Globetrotters, Ausbie entertained millions with his antics on the court. He visited hundreds in the hospital.

"The people were the best part, particularly the kids," he said. "Some of them may be sick, but there were always smiling faces."

While Ausbie tried to bring Christmas to folks every day, his home in midtown Little Rock reflected Christmas for many seasons for generations of folks, young and old. It was often one of the best-illuminated and best-decorated homes in the area, a must on a tour of lights.

Unfortunately, grinches recently put a halt to things.

"People started stealing the decorations and the light bulbs," Ausbie said, "had to quit doing it."

Giving has been a natural part of Ausbie’s DNA since the early days in a small town in Oklahoma.

Now, he does things on a more substantive stage than lights that only glow for a season.

His foundation raises money to help underpriviledged youngsters during the Christmas season. He buys them toys, provides them food. He sells old Gloetrotters player cards, posters and programs to help his cause.

Monday, the Arkansas Sports Club, as part of its annual December gift to charity, presented Ausbie with a check for $200 to help his organization help the needy.

"Kids who are hungry shouldn’t be hungry," he said. "If I made the money in basketball they are giving out today, no kid would be hungry."

As he approached the podium to speak Monday, Ausbie playfully tossed an autographed basketball to some friends at a table in front. As the men stretched out for the spinning ball, it got deflected. It bounced and rolled about the table, knocking over water and tea glasses like bowling pins. The ball and glasses scattered about the floor, sending ice cubes and liquid all over the carpet in front.

Mike Harrison, the executive director of the Arkansas Sports Club, grabbed a towel and began cleanup on aisle 1 just as Ausbie began to speak.

"Mike, I’ll get the mop; I’ll clean this up," Ausbie said.

Even when he was in the spotlight and having fun, the thought about service.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net)