Brothers in Air
Reebok and Team Flight Brothers team up.
Man wasn’t meant to fly. But don’t tell that to Team Flight Brothers.
Not three weeks ago, it was an overcast day in Lynn, Massachusetts, a small, historic city in Essex County. But the cool weather, damp air and cluster of dark clouds couldn’t wipe the smiles off the faces of all the kids in Lynn English High’s gym.
Why the abundance of adolescent smiles?
Reebok’s presents and Team Flight Brothers presence.
To kick off the 2009-10 season and to unveil this year’s version of the ATRs (Above The Rims), Reebok donated shoes and gear to Lynn English’s teams. And instead of just dropping off the gear and leaving it at that, RBK brought in Team Flight Brothers to commemorate the event, and elevate the day for students at Lynn.
Team Flight Brothers aka “TFB”, ranges from one-footed dunkers to two-footers; from 5-8 guys built like bricks to 6-5-plus beanpoles; from Canadians to Americans; from former big-time college players to dunkers who may not have even played high school ball. All on the team are different, and all are the same. The tie that binds? Incredible verticals, a creative ability to see and do things with their air that hasn’t been done before and the ability to make crowds say “Oh!”
As TFB’s founder and operator Chuck Millan teamed up with a few Lynn players to talk about the generous gift from Reebok, the pimple-faced crowd started getting antsy.
After a few minutes of barely audible intros and announcements by Millan, the maroon and white clad cheerleaders surrounding the court began a rehearsed routine. As the music grew louder—a mix of Soulja Boy, Weezy and Jay-Z filling the air—TFB’s show commenced.
Kareem “Air Bama” Reid, one of the highest flying Brothers, had been sitting in the crowd. As the beat built, Reid stepped off the bleachers and ran onto the court. With a flourish, Air Bama threw down one of the hardest dunks of the day—taking a pass off the glass, he cocked the ball back well behind his head and tried his hardest to crack the rim with the force of his hand.
As the crowd rose in unison—obviously Lynn was previously unaware of what TFB was capable of—the Brothers filed into two lay-up lines.
On that day in Lynn English’s packed gym, no lay-ups were attempted. Only dunks. Lots and lots of dunks, alternating between a violent brand of break-the-rim types and ballerina-esque make-love-to-the-rim types.
Aside from Bama, arguably the best all-around player of the bunch, about 10 Brothers took part in the showcase.
Quintin “The Elevator” Slaughter, a southpaw of little height and stocky frame, was one of the more impressive dunkers, throwing down some power smashes that would have made Josh Smith proud.
Brandon Lacue aka “Werm,” didn’t seem like much when he was warming up. But when the show started, the baby-faced Floridian attempted and completed some one-legged dunks that every NBA player would be envious of. Forget reverse lay-ups. Werm finished every kind of reverse dunk that you can imagine.
Stringy. Skinny. Lanky. Beanpole. Long and lean. Call him and his appearance what you like, but the best dunker among the Brothers, at least on that day, was Justin “JusFly” Darlington.
Like a handful of TFB members, Darlington takes college classes when not performing—specifically, he attends McGill, a top-flight school in Montreal. Unlike the others, though, the Canadian native is also training for the Olympics, hoping to qualify in the high jump. Feeling like he was under-scouted and under-recruited because he played high school ball in Canada, JusFly and his pogo-like vertical have been with TFB for a minute now. Aside from his never-ending ups, Darlington also possesses gymnastic flexibility and tumbling abilities. Using that combo of skills, Darlington throws down boofs the caliber of which you’ve never seen before—and that Vince Carter would be jealous of.
As TFB did their best twin-engine jet impersonations, some of the kids started talking about the kicks they were rocking while dunking.
As the dunkers wound down and landed back on earth with tired legs, teachers began ushering students out of the gym—just because they missed fifth period doesn’t mean they were going to miss sixth. Walking to class buzzed from the show, kids began talking about specific dunks and dunkers that they liked. Many were blown away by JusFly’s dunks that day; others were stunned by the fresh gear.
Not three weeks ago in Lynn, the weather was bleak and the sky a dirty gray—the kind of conditions that can delay flights. Weather and all, though, nothing could ground a handful of Brothers from getting Above The Rim on that day.