by Maurice Bobb / @ReeseReport
Jay-Z and Kanye West may “ball so hard” in their juggernaut anthem, “Ni**as In Paris,” but the real ballers are the streetball vets who lace ‘em up for the Quai 54, a storied streetball tournament held just a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Now in its 10th year, the Jordan Brand sponsored tourney has cemented itself as the go-to event in Europe for hard-nosed, über-competitive hoops.
Last year, I attended France’s “beautiful expression of streetball culture” and recapped the event in KICKS 14. I was amazed. I was in awe. I was beside myself, not only with the locale, but with the level of competition, the organization and the entertainment. You’d expect almost any event in the City of Lights to be grandiose or étonnant and it was, but it was beyond my wildest expectations, so when I got the call to return, well, I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough.
This year, as an event partner, SLAM will broadcast the two-day elimination tournament here. So you won’t have to hear second hand about how Ray Allen lit up last year’s event with his deep ball prowess or how Brooklyn’s own Fabolous rocked the crowd with his litany of hits during halftime of the championship game. You can see it all for yourself, right down to the international teams from the United States, Japan, Latvia, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Guinea, Iran and France, the rap battles, the dance competition, the jaw-dropping women you’d expect in a city teeming with models and, of course, the slam dunk contest. Last year’s winner had more hops than Blake Griffin on a pogo stick.
“You don’t want to miss this year’s Quai 54,” says event founder Hammadoun Sidibé, who started this event 10 years ago in the 54 Quai Michelet de Levallois in the suburbs of Paris. “This is the 10th event we’ve had and each year we try to do it bigger and better and this year will be no different. You will see teams from all over the world compete to see who is the best at streetball in the world. And you will see great entertainment throughout the weekend. People wait all year for the Quai 54. You will see everything Paris has to offer and I promise you that you won’t be disappointed with what you see.”
The live stream telecast will begin Saturday morning when the first game is played at 11 a.m. Eight games are scheduled for the first day, with entertainment such as a double dutch act, a French Rapper performance, the Clash Rap battle and the three-point contest interspersed throughout the day. Sunday’s telecast will begin at 10:30 a.m. for the first quarter final game. Seven games are scheduled, with the final championship game beginning at 8:05 p.m.
This year’s halftime entertainment is definitely an MC your familiar with, so make sure you stick around all the way to the championship game to see if the defending champs, the French squad La Relève, are able to defend their crown. And keep your eyes peeled for me in the throng of basketball aficionados posted up in the makeshift stands circling the blacktop in the Parc du Champ de Mars. I’ll be the one with a macaroon from Ladurée in one hand and an iPad loaded with Rosetta Stone for français in the other. Au revoir!