by Shannon Booher

Saturday afternoon adidas held their adiHOOP 3-on-3 celebrity basketball tournament on the Promenade in Santa Monica, bringing together the entertainment, Hip-Hop and basketball communities as only a Los Angeles All-Star weekend can. The indoor half-court setup had four rows of bleachers along one side, baseline court-side seats and an upper deck for spectators. The back wall was a graffiti mural of a purp’ and yellow cityscape, with the court’s key painted to match. Opposite the bleachers was a DJ pit housing DJ Neil Armstrong and a host of celebrity MC’s including Big Boy, DMC and Ken Jeong. The place was packed with fans, including many kids, getting pics with the celebs and generally having a good time.

Twelve teams participated in a round-robin format, with the winners of the four pools advancing to a single-elimination tourney. The celebrity teams included the West Coasters, featuring Snoop Dogg, Game and Chris Brown and two Hip-Hop squads: U-N-I and Kidz In The Hall. The teams rounding out the field represented various art and lifestyle brands including Undftd, Skullcandy, Girl Skate, Bagavagabonds, HVW8 Art, Proper, the Hundreds, Sole Collector Magazine, and Sheikh. All the squads were outfitted in adidas head-to-toe.

I arrived mid-way through the preliminary rounds just before Snoop’s “West Coasters” were set to play Team Proper. A warm-up area was setup behind the DJ booth and I caught my first glimpse of the West Coasters uniforms. They were Lakers purp’ and yellow, of course, and the team was wearing Snoop’s new adidas shoe — the adiPure, colored to match. Snoop showed even more Lakers love with his t-shirt on which was printed “99 Problems But My Lakers Not 1”.

A couple of adidas’ NBA guys dropped in for this game — Jrue Holiday and Toney Douglas. Serge Ibaka and Wesley Johnson caught some of the earlier action. And another, Matt Barnes, helped coach the West Coasters for this game. He emphatically called some crucial timeouts in this tight match-up, and after a controversial goal-tending call gave the West-Coasters the ball at the end of the game, he may have even helped draw up the game-winning give-n-go out-of-bounds play finished by Snoop.

Before the single elimination portion of the tourney started, Kidz In The Hall took the court for a performance. Great. Naledge is known for sprinkling NBA references all over his lyrics, so they were a fitting choice for the event. They performed Driving Down The Block and a couple other tracks. Double O randomly jumped up and grabbed the rim as part of the energetic performance. I’m not sure if they performed earlier, but I wish I had seen U-N-I as well. Both are young Hip-Hop groups really doing their thing out there right now.

In the first semi-final the West Coasters took on team UNDFTD. Would their name hold up? Chris Brown and Game were killing ‘em early with the spin moves. Both have really legit games, although I think I’d give the slight edge to Brown. His shot was nice all day. Both were absolute gunners — not a lot of dimes being dropped by the West Coasters, at least not until late in the games. Game was especially funny with a style made for all-star type games. He kept either kissing the ball or doing the four-point cross on his chest before he shot open 3’s. Their antics kept the game closer than it should have been, prompting fan-favorite Ken Jeong — luckily fully clothed and not armed with a crowbar — to get on the mic for a little play-by-play down the stretch. Brown caught fire at the end, though, and they managed to take down UNDFTD in double-OT. Team Skullcandy took down the HVW8 Art & Design with ease, and it was time for the final.

For the last game, I got my first court-side seat to anything, under the basket just to the left. Skullcandy brought size, high flyers and teamwork to the mix, so it was going to be a good game. They actually attempted a nice-looking alley-oop right off the bat, but they could not quite complete it. From my vantage point I got an up-close look at what I call “Snoop 1-8-7 eyes”. Dude was intense. He was showing the type of post moves to make Kevin McHale proud and Chris Brown was money from 3. It came right down to the final seconds though. Snoop hit a clutch baseline J — one of those tough mid-range shots from a standing position. Skullcandy followed that right up with a quick basket though, and it came down to the final possession. The West Coasters came up with another nice inbounds play, with Snoop hitting a hard-cutting Brown with a nice pass He hit the lay-up and the wild celebration started. The DJ played “What’s My Name?” as the West Coasters danced it out and received custom adidas bath robes and a silver basketball trophy. All day long the West Coasters did exactly just enough to win. They were saving their energy for the celebration.

It was a great event with the perfect mix of Hip-Hop, Hollywood and basketball, befitting of a Los Angeles All-Star Weekend. Thanks to Paul Diehl and Matt Daniella for putting it together and being great hosts.