by Eldon Khorshidi / @eldonadam

In New York City, the end of the NBA season is only the beginning. As summertime rolls around and the sun becomes an inferno, masses flee from their homes and hit the playgrounds to do what they know best: play basketball. In the Mecca of hoops, respect is both earned and taken away on asphalt. As the famous Nike iS8 Tournament adage goes, “Bring your game, Not your name.”

Throughout the summer there is a plethora of parks showcasing the city’s talent, but the select few ‘landmark,’ tournaments make or break you. These tournaments lay the foundation and help define the culture of New York. One of them is Dyckman.

Returning for its 20th summer, the legendary Dyckman Basketball Tournament is ready for its most anticipated season yet. Held at Monsignor Kett Playground in the Washington Heights/Inwood section of Manhattan on 204th Street and Nagle Avenue, the tournament hosts 56 teams in five different age groups. The tournament is held seven days a week and reaches up to 1,500 spectators daily during the summer, beginning in early June and ending in mid-August. Many streetball legends and professional athletes have competed here—most recently UCONN star and NYC native Kemba Walker.

To bring a new form of energy and excitement into the hoops community, Nike has found a way to throw the streets a curveball by issuing something completely new; never has this been done before, and never will it be more remembered. Nike has carefully assembled 10 of the best ballers to form Team NIKE and gave them this mission: Win out at Dyckman.

In the Pro/College Division, the only metric of importance is wins and losses. If you score 50 and lose, you’ll get applause appropriate for a golf tournament, but if you lead your team to victory, you etch a memory that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Team NIKE is already the front-runner to win the league without ever playing a single game. They have undeniable talent but it’s yet to be seen if the talent can coexist. Can these 10 players who are normally the main focus of teams come sacrifice personal statistics to get W’s? If there’s a crunch time situation, whose number will Coach Bingo call? What will teams try to pull off in order to beat Team NIKE? Sound familiar? If we didn’t know better, we’d call Team NIKE the Miami Heat.

The questions are continuous but there’s one sure thing: Nothing is guaranteed—especially not at Dyckman. Animosity is growing with other playground-powerhouses like United Brooklyn, Money Train, Dominican Power, and Sean Bell All-Stars. To add even more fuel to the fire, Dyckman Basketball League President Kenny Steven is continuing to allow an open roster rule all season long.

Team NIKE’s first game is this Wednesday, June 15 at 8:15 p.m., against United Brooklyn. The 10 reppin’ the swoosh logo on their uniforms are Africa, Anti Freeze, Kee Kee, Vern, Seirius Satellite, Shep, T2, The Beast, Too Hard To Guard, and I Robot (all pictured above), but no one is certain what role each player will have–or how they’ll handle it. When the team needs a bucket, who will Coach Bingo go to? When an opposing team has a player that’s on fire, whose number will be called to lock him up? When there’s 5 minutes left in the game, what five will be on the court?

With the most talent per capita in the world, the Big Apple is ready for summer basketball. The Dyckman regular season runs from now until mid-August, with the Playoffs following in the weeks after. It’ll be interesting to see if Team NIKE can withstand the talent and firepower coming its way.

For more information on Team NIKE, check out its website. For information on the Dyckman Basketball Tournament, click here.