Nike Puts On In DC
The Swoosh brings the World Basketball Festival to our nation’s capital.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
In Washington DCd over the weekend, Nike put on a grand display as they brought the World Basketball Festival to our nation’s capital. Last year the event was held in New York City, but with the Olympics coming up in a few weeks, this year’s event was much grander.
The even kicked off on Friday with a game at the famed Goodman League, pitting Team New York against Team DC in a “friendly” exhibition in advance of the City Tournament of Champions which also featured teams from New York and Chicago.
Legendary Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson was in attendance as a special guest for Team DC. Fresh off their flight from Las Vegas, Kevin Durant and James Harden also showed up to support the squad from DC. Team DC narrowly defeated Team New York on a Baby Shaq and-one with time running out to seal the victory.
On Saturday, Team USA held a Hoops For Troops practice session which was closed to the public but open to military families at the DC Armory.
First, Candace Parker, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen held a clinic for the children of the service men and women in attendance and then the main event was the men’s National Team practice. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and the rest of Team USA put on a show for the few thousand in attendance, and afterwards everyone signed autographs and took pictures with the fans.
One of the more memorable moments for this writer came when a fan shouted at Kobe, “Yo, I got Kyrie [Irving] for my money!” This, of course, was in reference to the one-on-one challenge that the young Cleveland Cavaliers point guard put forth to Kobe. Kobe’s response to the overzealous fan?
“You gon’ be broke!”
From there it was off to the campus of Howard University for the Converse Block Party, where MMG lyricist and Ohio native Stalley performed for fans along with R&B star The Dream.
The nightcap kicked off with the City Tournament of Champions. Team New York, which featured former Cincinnati PG Kenny Satterfield, faced off against Team Chicago. Team DC was pitted against Team Los Angeles, which featured former UConn and NBA PG Marcus Williams and former Sacramento Kings guard Pooh Jeter.
New York squad defeated Chicago in the opener of the single-elimination tournament and Team LA defeated Team DC in the second semifinal contest, setting up a East Coast/West Coast final between New York and Los Angeles.
Sunday kicked off the start of the Nike Global Challenge Tournament that featured International teams (Puerto Rico, China, Lithuania, Canada), as well as three U.S. Squads (East, Midwest and West).
The final of the Global Challenge was between Team Canada—which featured prep hoops sensation Andrew Wiggins—and the Midwest USA squad. The Midwest squad would emerge victorious over their Canadian counterparts but one thing was for certain: Wiggins was without a doubt the best player on the floor, and all the hype that he’s received around the country is deserved.
The prelude to the main event, which was the City Tournament of Champions, was a dunk contest that featured L.A.’s own Justin “Jus Fly” Darlington. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Diana Taurasi came through to interact with fans and judge the contest.
The contestants were wearing Nike’s new shoe, the Hyperdunk+, which measured everyone’s vertical leap and fans could see it on screen. Jus Fly emerged victorious over Chicago’s Osiris Eldridge, as he put on a show with his now-famous cartwheel, between-the-legs dunk that drove the Internets crazy when he debuted it in L.A.
Lastly was the City Tournament of Champions title game between New York and Los Angeles.
The game was back-and-forth and ultimately ended being a thriller as Team New York battled back in the last two minutes and took home the trophy. Adris “2 Hard 2 Guard” DeLeon came through on two driving layups in the final moments to seal the victory.
The World Basketball Festival concluded on Monday night with both the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams taking on Brazil at the Verizon Center. Both teams won and put on a great show, with none other than President Obama and family in attendance. All in all, it was a fantastic event and a great time, especially if you’re a hoops junkie.