Why Not Give Back?
Russell Westbrook teams up with Swagg On Heem for a good cause.
It seems as if the successful charity-driven event was just yesterday, but a little more than a week later, the buzz surrounding the NBA and celebrity basketball game between upstart brands Why Not and Swagg On Heem on the West Coast has shown little, or no, signs of slowing down.
The hype continues to grow. With good reason, keep in mind.
Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George of the Indiana Pacers made guest appearances. BallIsLife was on board as one of the sponsors as well. Accordingly, the festivities in Los Angeles seemingly went off without a hitch. Plenty of money was raised for a worthy cause and given back to the community, the nearby Challengers Boys & Girls Club.
“It was great, everyone involved did a good job of getting the word out to the city and we had support. It was a great turnout,” said Westbrook, a Los Angeles native who played high school ball at Leuzinger in Lawndale after spending a majority of time honing his skills during the formative years at Challengers Boys & Girls Club, located on Vermont and 51st.
Westbrook is one of the masterminds behind the budding label Why Not, a phrase that he coined back in the day, before college at UCLA. Fast forward to present time, and his catchy play on words adorns a number of wristbands, t-shirts and hats.
Busy with life in the League, Westbrook essentially had to hand over the reins, and the majority of the responsibility when it comes to Why Not, to his brother, Raynard. The younger sibling has done his best to keep the brand heading in the right direction. And then some.
“For us, Why Not is a lifestyle, on the court, off the court, in the classroom too,” said Raynard, who currently attends Central Oklahoma. “The brand stands for doing positive things in life. It doesn’t matter where you come from. It’s about doing bigger and better things.
Similarly, brothers Raheem and Dwayne Giddens, along with John Brown, Rayvione Mouton and Corey Rogan, have done what must be considered to be an admirable job of pouring their collective hearts and souls into getting the Swagg On Heem movement off the ground. So far, so good.
James Harden, a teammate of Westbrook at Oklahoma City and DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors are just a few NBA players who have embraced what Swagg On Heem stands for. Harden has been seen wearing the brands’ wristband on more than one occasion.
“With Swagg On Heem, we’re about promoting individuality. We want to show people out there that it’s cool to be comfortable in your own skin. Be you. Do you,” Raheem Giddens said. “It’s important to not let anyone affect you in a negative way. Positivity is our vibe.”
Rogan, who attends Tuskegee University with Giddens, echos the same sentiments: “We believe there is so much diversity in the world. Have your own style. Have your own goals. Have your own dreams. Put things together and have the best of both worlds. Swagg On Heem.”
Truth be told, the connection between the brands runs a bit deeper.
Giddens and Rogan attended high school together at Crenshaw in Los Angeles. The Westbrook brothers went to Leuzinger, as mentioned beforehand. The meeting place during their days as wide-eyed youths was in Los Angeles at Challengers Boys & Girls Club, of course.
Having known each other, seemingly for years and years now, joining forces in an effort to come to the aid of the inner city made complete sense, by most accounts.
“We all grew up at Challengers Boys & Girls Club, me, my brother, Russell and Raynard, there was a lot of us, that’s the place where it all started, the mecca,” Dwayne Giddens said. “We want to tell kids out there that no matter where you’re from, you can overcome anything and become a success story.
“It was important for all of us to give back to our community, to show the kids at Challengers Boys & Girls Club that an NBA player like Russell got his start at the same place that they are at now. He made it out of that place. His brother Raynard did too and is playing football in college. All of us are doing are own thing and having success. It’s possible. Always work hard and you can do whatever you want in life, make a name for yourself. That’s our message.There are a lot of success stories out of Challengers Boys & Girls Club, it’s the nucleus that keeps us together. It all intertwines.
Hoops fans, as expected, flocked to see what all of the hype was about.
As for the action on the court, Why Not defeated Swagg On Heem 129-126, due in part to the guidance of its coach, Russell Westbrook, who paced the sidelines from start to finish. Thunder coach Scott Brooks would’ve been proud of his point guard’s demeanor, though Westbrook didn’t have the chance to draw up many plays.
“I had fun, it was a cool environment,” said George, a Fresno State product who attended Knight High in Palmdale, located approximately 60 miles from Challengers Boys & Girls Club in Los Angeles. “I was out here showing some love to my man, Russell.”
It was a cool environment indeed.
Moreover, it was for a good cause.
Bottom line: Why Not and Swagg On Heem put their heads together, and plenty of resources in the name of charity mind you, to deliver a show for those within the community who normally would not have the opportunity to be involved in such an event.
“We started talking, Why Not and Swagg On Heem, about doing something for Los Angeles and giving back was important to us,” Raynard Westbrook said.
There were no losers—despite what the scoreboard said—only winners, particularly Challengers Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles.
Shoutout to Cassius Pierce and livininthedream.com for the photos.