Band of Ballers Hits NYC
‘The undeniable connection between sports and music.’
by Jesus Trivino Alarcon / @jtrivinoalarcon
Back to school came early for a bunch of teenagers yesterday in NYC. Fortunately, for the lucky teens they didn’t return to La Salle High School for Mr. McCarthy’s biology class but for Converse’s 3rd Annual Band of Ballers tournament, presented by MTV2. The day was full of hip-hoppers, hipsters (yikes!), heat and hoops. Walking into Ron Artest’s Metta World Peace’s old stomping grounds was a bit surreal and also disappointing that Ron Ron wasn’t there. Yet, we did hear at least one person say, “Queensbridge.”
Along with Jim Jones and his back-to-back reigning champions The Jones Family squad there were an eclectic mix of teams at the event. There was Team Swell led by alternative hip-hop duo Chiddy Bang, Taylor Gang with Amber Rose’s sugar poppa Wiz Khalifa, Team Brooklyn with boyfriend/girlfriend duo Matt and Kim, Community’s Donald Glover and Pat the Roc, and YMCMB coached (we think) by Lil Twist and Corey Gunz.
Before the 3-on-3 games started, press was escorted to an air-conditioned (thank you, Jesus) classroom to interview artists Chiddy Bang, Matt and Kim, Lil Twist and Jim Jones. Xaphoon Jones of Chiddy Bang joked about “rapping all of [Jim Jones’] adlibs” in order to distract the champs. Kim (the only female wearing a team jersey) demonstrated her strategy—it involved bending over and flaunting her Rhode Island-bred curves. Oddly enough, it was her boyfriend’s 1970s-era tight bball shorts that unfortunately attracted all the eyeballs.
Lil Twist rocking a red Converse t-shirt and a Big Daddy Kane hi-top fade/faux hawk combo walked in next to discuss his upcoming album and his affinity of the brand. “Converse is very cool,” he said. “I actually just [finished doing] an ad campaign with them.”
Finally, the champs walk into the makeshift pressroom. Jim Jones quickly plunks down into a school desk and starts reminiscing over his school daze (here’s a hint: he used to sleep a lot in class). He’s surrounded by his deep squad which included Jesse Sapp, Adrian Walton among others. When asked about some of his favorite old school players Jones mentioned the usual names (MJ, Barkely, Dr. J) and he also said he follows today’s players excluding a certain number 6. “No LeBron, though.”
Jones and crew were the last round of interviews because Wiz was, ahem, up in smoke indisposed. Everyone returned to the special area designated to anyone who resembled an adult. The kids were in the cramp gymnasium enjoying famed NYC bballer/hip-hop staple Bobbito’s quips and raspy voice as Band of Ballers’ play-by-play man. This year’s event was bigger and better than previous tournaments thanks in part to Converse’s partnership with MTV2. The ubiquitous pop culture cable channel plans to air the event in mid-August. While Bobbito played Mike Breen, Sway did his best Craig Sager impersonation (minus the gaudy suit, plus head wrap).
In between games, which were won by the first to 10 with a two-point lead, cheerleaders were seen sneaking back to the “adult room” inhaling potato-chip laced hot dogs and SOBE drinks. One of the highlights of the day came with our sit-down with Converse C.M.O. Geoff Cottrill. SLAM chatted with him about the importance of the convergence of sports and music and Converse’s newly opened music studio in Brooklyn, Rubber Tracks. Stay tuned for more info in our next KICKS issue.
Back to the people watching game; we notice a reality star in our view. Jones’ sort of soon-to-be wife Chrissy Lampkin of Love & Hip Hop fame came through to support her fiancé. She looked as fine as ever in skinny jeans and a smile.
The basketball played wasn’t enough to fill the hole left by the impending lost NBA 2011/2012 season but did you really expect Matt and Kim to hoop it up like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Exactly. The day-long event was more about showcasing the undeniable connection between sports and music. Overall, Converse’s Band of Ballers event showcased the unity to a tee.
Did Jim Jones and company make it a three-peat? Or did someone else hold up the Golden Speaker Trophy? Find out next month when MTV2 airs the games.