The good folks over at Red Bull and Dime Magazine invited us out last Saturday for a night of street hoops in Jersey. 100 players were invited to the Nets Practice Facility for a closed pick-up run for Round 1. Out of those 100, 35 will be selected for the second round and 8 will move on to rep NYC to compete against teams from Chicago, DC and Boston later this year for ultimate bragging rights. DC had their Midnight Run a couple weeks ago and their 35 have already been picked with the help of John Wall. Go over to the Red Bull site to see who made the cut and head over to DIme for more coverage on DC.
The New Jersey Brooklyn Nets wasted no time redecorating the place, it was all black and white everything. There were Brooklyn Nets logos everywhere, from the padding on the walls to center court. Remnants of the Jason Kidd Era hung from the rafters along with their ABA Championships from the 70s and retired numbers of OGs like Dr. J and Buck Williams. Before everything started, each player had their height, weight, vertical, reach, and wingspan documented with the equipment the pros use.
The party was from 9 PM until 12:30 AM and the action was nonstop. Teams of 5 played on two courts simultaneously. First squad to 11 or whoever is up after seven minutes wins. Some guys came with their own teams, but if they lost there was a chance they would be broken up. All the players received a bunch of cool stuff, including a brand new pair of white Reebok ZigZags and reversible jerseys. A lot of veteran cats were in the building. Dudes that have played in their fair share of Red Bull tournaments like their 2-on-2 Revolution and King of the Rock on Alcatraz.
As soon as we walked in we ran into Reds out of Philly (in the third photo). He's a regular on the streetball scene. Reds has played in and has won more than a few money tournaments around the country. He quickly declared his five wouldn't lose a game and we believed him. He's only 6'2", but is built like a tank. His team consisted of other streetball vets that had their fair share of concrete battles. Ira Miller reps Queens and played on the same Christ the King high school team as Lamar Odom and Speedy Claxton, Isaac Valdez aka I.Q. went to George Washington High in Washington Heights and is a regular on the Dyckman courts, Arnell Milton aka "MegaMan" out of Manhattan is also no stranger in street circles, and last but not, their best player, Julius Coles out of Harlem went to Blair Academy in NJ and graduated from Canisius College last year. Reds stood by his words for the most part. Too Hard to Guard lost one game the whole night.
Some other guys stood out. Bashir Grimes out of Kennedy High School in Paterson, NJ stands at 6'3" and can jump out of the gym. He played with the Harlem Globetrotters last year for that very reason. Last year's King of the Rock finalist (he lost to Baby Shaq) Amseshem Henderson aka OJay was in the building along with his buddy Haron Hargrave aka H20, both out of Queens. Jesse Kimmel aka "Baby Jimmer" out of Brooklyn is 5'5" with crazy handle and court vision, we hope he makes it to the second round. Cats weren't letting him cook, though, due to his size. Sheldon Bailey out of North Carolina (in the last photo to the left) played with Amar'e Stoudemire and Jarret Jack at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, NC. He's also LeBron James' body double in commercials. Why does LeBron need a stunt double, you ask? Check out Dime's interview on the science behind it. His squad, the Fab Five, reached the last game of the night, but lost after winning six straight. As you can tell by the last picture things got a little chippy.
The players weren't the only ones shining. What's street hopes without an MC or a DJ. Mouthpiece (in the fourth picture) kept things live with off-top nicknames and hilarious commentary. He's known in the Cali streetball circuit like Venice Beach and usually MCs most of Red Bull's basketball events including King of the Rock. Mouthpiece also dropped a bombshell. Supposedly a lingerie basketball league is in our future; thank the basketball gods. DJ Parler was on the ones and twos providing a necessary soundtrack to the action on the court. He was in his own world the whole night, playing everything from early Wu-Tang to Chief Keef, barely noticing the happenings on the court.
For the most part it was a great night. Sloppy play dominated early on, but that could've been due to lack of familiarity with teammates and the hectic environment. Things calmed down as the night went on. Slam dunk contest were sprinkled in between games and players took the opportunity to have photo shoots for their Instagram followers. We're looking forward to Round 2, check back in the future for another recap.
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