Jordan Brand & Nike Chi League Pro-Am Preview
The Windy City league kicks off this weekend…
by Krissy Harper / @CSNKrisHarper
The highly anticipated Nike and Jordan Brand summer hoops league is set to kick off at Whitney Young HS on Saturday, June 15 at 3 p.m. with special opening day guest appearances by Hall of Famer and former Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen, No. 1 overall pick, Chicago native and current New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis and the No. 2 overall pick and current Charlotte Bobcats small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Catering to the fans of the Windy City, admission and parking is free throughout the duration of the pro-am.
The Chi League is comprised of the best players from around the city forming 10 teams including, college- and professional-level caliber competition. There will be games running every Saturday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. up until August 10 when the two best teams will face off in a Championship game. There will also be an all-star game on either August 7 or August 13, where the best players in the league will show off their skills in front of a home crowd. Nike will also send a team to New York to compete in the legendary Tournament of Champions.
While the hoops league is the basketball highlight of the summer, Nike has turned their attention to the youth of the city. With violence plaguing the streets and neighborhoods, Nike and Jordan have teamed up in an effort to empower the youth by inspiring them to realize their potential whether it be in sports or in a corporate field. To accomplish this goal, the two brands in partnership have implemented three programs:
- CHI League Parks
Nike and Jordan created free, open-to-the-public skills clinics in neighborhood parks around the city. These clinics will be available to kids aged 9-13 and 14-18 at eight different parks in the metro area beginning this Saturday and each consecutive Saturday for a total of eight weeks. The parks included are:
|June 15||Ogden||6500 S. Racine Ave. Chicago IL 60636|
|June 22||Jackson||6401 S Stony Island Ave Chicago, IL 60637|
|June 29||Fernwood||10436 S. Wallace St. Chicago IL 60628|
|July 13||Columbus||500 S. Central Ave. Chicago, IL 60644|
|July 20||Garfield||100 N Central Park Ave Chicago, IL 60624|
|July 27||Loyola||1230 W. Greenleaf Ave. Chicago IL 60626|
|August 3||Franklin||4320 W. 15th St. Chicago IL 60623|
|August 10||Amundsen||6200 W Bloomingdale Ave Chicago, IL 60639|
The developmental programs will be at no cost for the participant’s involvement and the Chicago Park District will be handling the registration process. These clinics will accommodate 150 kids each week at each individual park.
“Nike and Jordan have answered our call for business and residents alike to help support our youth and is a committed and strong partner to the city’s efforts to provide safe and productive opportunities for Chicago youth throughout the summer,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a press release. “We have seen the success of the first session of Windy City Hoops with more than 1,200 kids participating in basketball programs. These free clinics will build on the success of Windy City Hoops program and increase the number of kids participating in safe and productive activities this summer.”
This past February, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas announced the creation of the Windy City Hoops basketball league. This merger coupled with the support from Nike has opened a door with unlimited opportunity for communal success.
“Our Windy City Hoops program has already shown that basketball is a popular and positive sport for youth,” said Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael Kelly in a recent press conference. “Partnering with Nike will give them another opportunity to engage and stay active in our parks. CHI LEAGUE PARKS demonstrates Nike’s commitment to inspire and enable Chicago’s young athletes to maximize their potential on and off the basketball court,” said Chris Jones, vice president, Nike central region. “It’s going to be a great summer for hoops.”
- CHI League Schools
Nike has started a developmental series for 100 high school basketball players that focuses not only on cutting-edge court skills but also progressive life skills. These concentrated weekend sessions will feature intense workouts followed by workshops led by experts from “Becoming a Man.” During these sessions the kids will also have the opportunity to speak and learn from sports-related professionals in an effort to encourage the up-and-coming athletes that there are other sports-driven opportunities outside the lines. This specific portion of the experience is perhaps the most important, seeing that only a small percentage of athletes successfully transition into a professional sports career. This was precisely designed to push the boundaries of the young athletes’ minds and allow them to see an even broader image of potential success upon graduation in a field that they are truly passionate about.
- THE CHI League
Nike and Jordan have set out to inspire the city with a pro-am summer league. The Chi League is an NBA and NCAA sanctioned event that is sure to deliver the best players Chicago has to offer including various NBA, euro-league, collegiate and amateur athletes battling every weekend in competitive games that are open to the public. This league has a deep history of showcasing some of the most talented players performing jaw-dropping plays. And while their competitive spirits are always running at a high level, there has constantly been an absolute standard for displaying positive sportsmanship-like conduct.
One of the home-town favorites that will be participating in the pro-am this summer is with former Crane HS standout point guard, McDonalds All-American, All-Big 12 first team two years in a row (at Kansas), NBA (Charlotte Bobcats) and overseas professional Sherron Collins. Collins is an explosive guard with incredible three-point range. His strong stature allows him the ability to body up against big men, making him a profound threat going to the rim. Check out this clip of Collins in NBA summer league action during his stint with the Bobcats.
Another notable Windy City favorite is former Westinghouse HS guard, Bradley University floor general and overseas professional Tony Bennett. Bennett’s basketball skills have taken him to three different countries spanning a four-year international professional career. His implausible ability to take over a game stems from his tough upbringing growing up on the west side of Chicago. Check out this video of Bennett as he prepared for the World Basketball Festival last summer with Team Nike.
Known as the silent assassin on the court, one more Chi Town favorite is former All-City Phillips HS guard, Illinois State University swingman and overseas professional Osiris Eldridge. Eldridge has a reputation for showcasing unique acrobatic dunks that wow the crowd. Eldridge has represented Team Nike in the past and to get an even better indication of this home-town favorite, check out this video.
Catch all these Chi Town favorites and many more NBA athletes beginning Saturday, June 15 at Whitney Young HS at 3 p.m. There will also be complete opening-weekend coverage, so don’t forget to check back next week for plenty of game recaps. See you there!