Red Panda to perform at halftime of Tarleton MBB game vs. Stephen F. Austin on Saturday
STEPHENVILLE – The best halftime show in all of basketball will touch down in the Cowboy Capital this weekend.
Rong Niu, affectionately known as Red Panda, is set to perform at halftime of Tarleton men's basketball's game vs. Stephen F. Austin on Saturday.
When the game clock strikes zero in the first half, Red Panda and a pair of game day event staffers will wheel out a seven-foot unicycle and six white metal bowls onto the Tarleton logo spanning center court on the Wisdom Gym hardwood. Red Panda will then mount the unicycle, balance the pedals with her left foot and flip each of the bowls into a stack above her head.
The performance spans roughly five minutes. It's a routine derived from a traditional Chinese acrobatic act.
Red Panda first took her act to NBA arenas in 1993. College basketball venues then came calling. She has since performed in 30 countries, won two Guinness World Records and appeared on Season 8 of America's Got Talent.
A 2019 article by SI.com featured Red Panda, and the origins and significance of her routine.
"It's ridiculous," said Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. "It's unbelievable. It's one of the best halftime shows. She's fantastic."
The article described how Red Panda identified a marketable name for her performance after moving to San Francisco at age-19.
"Red, a lucky color in China, would bring good fortune to her daring feat," said author Jake Fischer . "The Panda is the country's national animal. Combining the two, coincidentally, forms the English word for the endangered animal of that namesake."
Red Panda is often the star of the show rather than the game itself.
"When she's announced as an evening's halftime entertainment, it's regularly met with a guttural roar," Fischer said. "The [Philadelphia] 76ers annually open their schedule to Niu, inviting her to choose any two games that best suit her availability, preferring her appearances accompany their bigger, nationally-televised contests. If Philly makes the playoffs, their first booking call pings San Francisco. Niu practically holds a Bay Area residency with the nearby Golden State Warriors, impressing those within the locker room."
And for one evening, Tarleton State University will play host to basketball's most beloved halftime act.
Fans can secure their spots for the show by purchasing single-game general admission tickets to Saturday's showdown between the Texans and Lumberjacks in one of three ways: online at TarletonSports.com/Tickets, in person at the Tarleton Athletic Ticket Office or by calling 254-968-1832.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Tarleton and SFA are meeting for the first time on the Division I hardwood and as Western Athletic Conference rivals. The Texans are 6-9 overall and 1-1 in conference play ahead of their WAC home-opener on Thursday vs. Sam Houston. SFA (8-4) is expected to make its WAC debut 90 miles west along Interstate-20 against Abilene Christian on Thursday.