It’s the only way one could describe what took place from June to August at Monsignor Kett Playground in Washington Heights. Everything from the special guest appearances by Billy Hunter, Mark Cuban, Jadakiss, Vado and Juelz Santana, to Kevin Durant capping off his pilgrimage to the Mecca accompanied by his DMV homie, Michael Beasley, seemed almost too cool to be true. No one would believe that 10 of NYC’s best would issue the challenge ‘Run With Us or Run From Us,’ and dominate their competition, only to lose in the regular season to a team built to beat them. And to face the drama of nearly turning on each other, the pressure of dealing with naysayers and finish the tournament that became, if only for a few months, the epicenter of basketball by defeating the first foes to defeat them, all on a free throw followed by a camera angled 360-degree salute to win the championship? No. There’s no way that happens without the help of Michael Bay, Stephen Spielberg or at least an NYU drama student on the rise.
It’s just too perfect.
The beauty in everything that happened to Team NIKE is that it was organic. They crushed opponents, they beat NBA players and they created a worldwide interest in summer basketball that hasn’t been here since Kobe Bryant came and did work at the Rucker back in 2002. The need for reinvigoration was clear, but what transpired was less because of what was planned and more the result of an idea from three men who act as cultivators for summer hoops.
“One day we were chillin’ and I was like what would happen if we put the 10 best players on the same team and let them rock together to rep the swoosh or NYC?” said native New Yorker and Nike’s Global Brand Manager Paul “PR” Rivera. “I was tired of hearing how we (NYC basketball) fell off. I’ll put my name on the line that we have the best in the world, so I figured let’s put our money where our mouth is.”
Did New York really fall off in terms of talent? Nah, but it was obvious that the lore of drawing legends to the park just wasn’t happening. Something needed to be done.