All Around The World
AND1′s streetball tour is back—and this time it’s global.
At a photo shoot earlier this month, in anticipation for their world tour, I was able to catch up with a few of the streetball legends: Amazing, Hot Sauce and Spyda.
Alonzo Miles AKA Amazing
SLAM: I’ve been told that you are very involved in speaking to the youth.
Amazing: When I was their age, like 15 or 16, it’s about following and understanding your dreams. So me and Linda came up with a acronym for dreams called “Determined to Reach Reality through Education And Motivation.” We normally pick about six or seven kids and they tell me their dreams and I say, “God has already giving you everything to achieve your reality. Your reality is there and you have to be determined to reach that.” My little cousin, JaJuan Johnson plays at Purdue and he’s about to go to the League. So I look at him and say, “Well, Purdue is one of the best engineering schools in the country, so you gotta’ have a good GPA.” And basically the whole message is to get kids to follow their dreams.
SLAM: What’s some of the feedback you get from the kids?
Amazing: The kids are into it. I include them. They say they want to be doctors and once they get tuned in, I get a positive response from the teachers and administrators. They all love it. The parents love it. I met a woman on a plane the other day coming from a game we had in L.A., and we just sat down and talked about what I do. She then found me on Facebook and told me that I had a major impact on her son’s life in general just by talking to him. So that right there is an example of why we’re here. It’s what we love doing.
SLAM: What is it that has personally motivated you to reach out to the youth?
Amazing: I tell kids all the time, “We all grew up wanting to play in the NBA but God guided us this way and now I’m sitting here talking to ya.” So it’s a blessing in itself. I played at Western Kentucky. I got kicked out of school. I eventually came back to school and majored in education, and I ended up at AND1 doing something I love. I have a camp called “Ball Handling Academy”, where teamed up with the Professor. I work kids out. I feel like I can reach more kids now this way than if I was a teacher.
SLAM: Do think there are some flaws, maybe culturally, in young basketball players and the next generation of ballers?
Amazing: I don’t necessarily think the younger generation is doing anything wrong. I just think that some of the role models need to understand the impact they have on these kids. I’m not going to say Hip-Hop is a bad culture because we have people like Lupe Fiasco and Wale and Kanye. It’s all music; it’s all art. Basketball is the same way. They just need to understand the impact that they have on the youth, and give back and talk to them. All it takes is a voice a lot of times for the kids to understand. And then I’ll think it will go a lot better.
Philip Champion AKA Hot Sauce (left)
SLAM: What’s the feeling like of going international?
Hot Sauce: It’s going to be very big after a two-year layoff. So a lot of people have been trying to figure out where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. They’ve been following me on twitter @therealhotsauce. Basically, we’re hitting all these overseas markets. We have new sponsors. We are going to be hitting them the whole month of May and June. So we’re back to shut it down and make this thing happen. Hopefully this tour could open doors for more options.
SLAM: What kind of opportunities do you think it may eventually lead streetball to?
Hot Sauce: It’s unlimited. It’s basically about finding new cats. It’s not about us anymore. We have set the tone to bring new cats on that are not able to make it on these high schools, colleges and the pro level. So as long as we keep it going, we will be able to open the doors for the younger cats. When I first got on, I didn’t know it was going to get this big. But if it wasn’t for the Main Events, Half-Man Half-Amazings, or the Skip-to-my–Lous, I wouldn’t be here today. But through the blessings of God, I was able to get on and be a part of what they had going on. Now I’m here today as a named marquee player. Now all of us together are here to bring the young cats on and hopefully they turn this thing upside and make it something even bigger.
SLAM: You mentioned that people have inquired about what you were doing the last couple of years. So what was Hot Sauce up to?
Hot Sauce: Just been a family man. When I was on the road, I didn’t really have time to spend time with my family and friends. So I just been at home kicking it with my family. I still been hooping though. I’m here back and looking to put on a great show.
Dennis Chism AKA Spyda (right)
SLAM: How does it feel to back on the scene and now going internationally?
Spyda: It feels good to be back on the road, and now exploring the international world again. We’re looking forward to the competition. The competition is getting better and better. Guys are more athletic and know more about the game now. So we are really excited right now.
SLAM: Do you feel like the streetball game has changed?
Spyda: I don’t think it has changed but I think guys have gotten a lot better mentally in just knowing the game and really wanting to play and show their talents. So you really have a lot of guys gunning for your spot and more then it was back then.
SLAM: Do you think there is a difference between a pick-up game at a park and AND1′s streetball game?
Spyda: No difference. It’s still a basketball a game. It’s still about putting the points on the board.
SLAM: There are those who criticize AND1′s game by saying it moves away from the rules of basketball and its fundamentals. What’s your thought on that?
Spyda: I mean anybody can guard you from the sidelines. Everybody’s not gonna love it. Even in the NBA there are those who say, “Damn, how he got on the team?” He’s there for a reason. He’s a professional for a reason.
SLAM: What exactly do you try to show the youth, especially those who look up to the AND1 ballers?
Spyda: We aren’t really trying to have them look up to us. We’re just trying to keep them off the streets, stay in school, and just be productive and successful in life. All we are is just entertainers and basketball players.
SLAM: Have you or your game changed since you joined AND1?
Spyda: I’ve grown a lot. I’ve changed. When I first came, I was young. I was 21, now I’m 30. So I’ve learned a lot. Being around these guys right here, I adapted my game.
For information on And1’s tour and much more, you can visit their official website.