AND It Don’t Stop
A Q + A with Troy “Escalade” Jackson.
by J. Gamble
Troy “Escalade” Jackson has had one heck of a year. His brother Mark announced the NBA Playoffs. One of his best friends, Orlando point guard Rafer Alston, made it to the NBA finals and balled-out. Another good friend, Lakers forward Lamar Odom, won it all. And the AND 1 Streetball brand that the big man helped make legendary, is going international with Escalade moving into an executive role. He is also a part of a new street ball entity called Ball Up, which will be touring the U.S.
Escalade, who attended every playoff game in Orlando and dined with Alston, brother Mark and announcer Jeff Van Gundy after Game 3, shared some of his thoughts and future endeavors with a fellow St. Albans, Queens head—Me.
SLAM: You have been one of the most influential pieces in making AND 1 Basketball a worldwide phenomenon. What is your role with them now?
Escalade: I’m more of the brand ambassador now. I’ve made the transition to the front office a ‘lil bit more these days. I think because of how long I’ve been there and also my visibility, I’ve become the face of the movement… well, myself and Professor. I’m certainly not the best player, I just did a good job of dealing with fans and media and keeping my face on TV.
SLAM: What can we look forward to for this upcoming year with AND 1?
Escalade: In the traditional sense it’s gonna be different. There won’t be a mixtape tour like it’s been in the past. There will be a lot of international dates. The overseas market is so big for us that it just makes sense to take full advantage of it. Plus I’m a part of a new tour called Ball Up. It’s very fresh and exciting. Check out the website ballupstreetball.com.
SLAM: What do you think is the biggest impact the tour has had on the culture of basketball?
Escalade: I think what all the guys have done is be individuals. We have shown kids you may not make the NBA but you can still succeed, make your mark and branch out into other productive things.
SLAM: What other projects are you doing right now? I see your doing podcasts. Talk a bit about that and what else.
Escalade: I’m doing some radio here in New York. I own a studio here in NY, along with my partners Phil and Mr. Man. I have my own condom company, which is something I’m passionate about since I lost my brother to HIV.
SLAM: Who is the most important player in AND 1 history? Why?
Escalade: Rafer Alston aka “Skip to My Lou.” He is the most important playground legend ever. He’s the reason for the mixtape tour and the TV show. Plus he’s had the most NBA success. Also I think the original group as a whole was huge in creating a movement. Main, Shane, Headache, Half Man, Future, all those guys were just great.
SLAM: Who were you rooting for in the NBA Playoffs?
Escalade: I was rooting for Orlando. No question. One of my best friends in the world was playing in the Playoffs. I’m just very happy for Skip; he played great. Rafe is my guy. We grew up in rival neighborhoods in Queens. We have been friends since we were kids. I’ve known him since junior high, although we got closer as we got older. I consider him a brother at this point. I would do anything for him and vice versa.
SLAM: What do you think of the way he’s repped his team in the Playoffs? And the way he has overcome many setbacks.
Escalade: He had a great Playoffs. He’s been in the NBA for 10 years now. Hardcore basketball fans knew him, but to the casual fan these playoffs were his coming out party. He really arrived. As far as his setbacks, well… he’s a NY guy. Toughness comes with that. No matter what he’s gonna fight on the court and in life.
SLAM: Do you think people are surprised? In an ESPN interview, you said Rafer has shaken the label of a street ballplayer. Explain.
Escalade: Well to an extent he has. Like I said he is now a 10-year NBA vet. After all these years he has to be looked at as a legit pro.
SLAM: Also, don’t you think it is great that although he made it as a solid NBA point guard, he will always be known as a legend and one of the faces that brought AND 1 to max heights and gave it legitimacy?
Escalade: For sure! He has made it easier for the next streetball guy to get his chance. Folks will say if he’s this good let’s go find another street guy. It’s like with Jackie Robinson integrating baseball. After one is successful the floodgate opens.
SLAM: How was it having a good friend playing in the Finals and a brother on the announcing team?
Escalade: It was awesome. I felt really connected to these Finals—went to all the games with my brother Mark doing the broadcast and Rafer on one team. Also another Queens guy who I’ve known for years in Lamar Odom…. It was a lot of fun to just be that close to the action every night. I was like a fly on the wall just soaking it all in.
SLAM: Were you concerned with living up to big brother’s legacy growing up?
Escalade: Never. Other folks had those issues. I’ve always been my own man. Even as a young kid I just wanted to do my thing. One of the reasons I went to Louisville rather than St. John’s was because I wanted to go to my own school and build my own legacy. That’s why I love it there so much. The fans at Louisville didn’t care who my bro was they just loved me for me.
SLAM: What city currently has the best playground ballers?
Escalade: Well NY, Chicago, Philly and D.C. are the only cities that have true playground basketball. Most other places don’t play outside. They have great leagues but no real streetball scene. Like Detroit has St. Cecelia and L.A. has The Drew, but those are indoor leagues. Right now, I’m saying NYC and D.C. are the best.
SLAM: What’s your greatest moment on the AND 1 Tour?
Escalade: Wow there are so many. But if I had to pick one I’d say the Sports Illustrated cover. That was mind boggling to be on the cover. Still can’t believe it!
SLAM: Who are top three players in NBA history?
Escalade: MJ, Kobe and Magic.
SLAM: What is your signature move and have you developed any new ones to keep up with all of the young heads coming up?
Escalade: My signature move is to stay relevant and to keep getting checks. This is a business. I let other guys be legends and worry about all those things. This is a job. I love it but it doesn’t define me.