by Eldon Khorshidi / @eldonadam

“What does not kill me, makes me stronger”— Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, 1888.

More times than not, the adage above is misconstrued. You see, adversity is a two-way street: when knocked down, the weak will get weaker, while only the strong will get stronger. When an individual or a group of individuals has their backs against the wall, their true form will emerge.

As the Dyckman Championship approached, everyone wondered if Team NIKE had enough firepower and mental fortitude to close the book and finally get revenge. Nearly a month after suffering its first defeat of the summer to always outspoken and confident Ooh Way Records, Team NIKE finally had its wish for a rematch granted. On the largest stage of any streetball game in recent memory, The Boys In Black had a prime chance at redemption, and they delivered.

In the Championship game of the Dyckman Summer Basketball Tournament, Team NIKE defeated Ooh Way Records, 71-70. It took an extra period of play, but when the smoke cleared, Coach Bingo’s troops prevailed.

“It was an incredible summer, capped off by an incredible Final,” said Team NIKE head coach Bingo Cole. “Every game of the playoffs was extremely tough, but our guys came through when it mattered most.”

Before the game even started, the intensity and atmosphere of the park resembled more of a zoo than a basketball game. With Ooh Way’s top scorer Dwight “Top Shelf” Hardy running late, Tony Rosa’s bunch began to stall, linger, and float around. When the refs blew the whistle for both teams to field their starting fives, Ooh Way players were still exchanging laughs and horsing around with fans. The referees patiently waited, but after five minutes or so, they blew the whistle again, this time for a technical foul. Ooh Way immediately reacted, pleading for a mulligan. But a familiar foe (friend?) came to Ooh Way’s side. Bingo refused to accept the free point, and the game tipped off, 0-0.

Led by guards Kenny “K-Satt” Satterfield (17 pts, 3 rbs, 3 ast), Keydren “Kee Kee” Clark (15 pts) and Adris “Too Hard To Guard” DeLeon (12 pts), Team NIKE built an early lead and gained momentum. But as expected, Ooh Way fired right back.

New Jersey Nets guard Sundiata “Yatta” Gaines scored a flurry of points to cut into Team NIKE’s 21-14 lead. With Gaines and “Top Shelf” Hardy combating Team NIKE’s perimeter attack, the focus shifted inside.

Team NIKE’s Anthony “I Robot” Glover (12 pts, 5 rbs) and Ooh Way’s Darren “DP” Phillips (19 pts, 11 rebs) battled in the post, with Phillips getting the better of Glover in the first half. Before they could blink, Team NIKE was only up two, leading 25-23. After a defensive stop, Hardy pushed the ball and scored on a baseline layup to tie the game. And after Phillips gave Ooh Way its first lead with a pair of free throws, Gaines secured a Team NIKE miss and took the ball coast-to-coast, putting Ooh Way up 29-26 at halftime.

When play resumed, DeLeon and Hardy both stepped up, carrying their respective teams in the second half. With less than five minutes remaining and Team NIKE down three, DeLeon drove and converted an and-one teardrop, reminding the crowd that he is Dyckman’s favorite son. After DeLeon’s free throw gave Team NIKE the 40-39 lead, Gaines responded with three straight 3-pointers to deflate Team NIKE and give Ooh Way a 48-40 lead.

With its goals, aspirations and reputation on the line, Team NIKE gathered in a huddle, with Quentin “T2” Hosley urging his fellow troops to remain focused and turn it up.

Coming down the stretch, Satterfield took the leader role and scored twice in the lane, cutting Ooh Way’s lead to three. With Ooh Way up 61-58 with 37.3 seconds left, “Kee Kee” Clark found himself at the free-throw line. After missing the first and hitting the second, Team NIKE was within two with fewer than 30 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Dwight Hardy lost the ball and Team NIKE recovered, putting Kee Kee back at the line with 22.7 seconds left and a chance to tie the game. Poof. Poof. Tie game. Overtime.

Glover began the extra period with an and-one to give Team NIKE some momentum and separation. However, “DP” Phillips responded right back, earning a trip of his own to the charity stripe. Phillips went one-for-two and brought his team within one. After a Team NIKE turnover, Ooh Way had possession, down one point with 30 seconds left. Fab Miller then found Hardy on a backdoor pass for a layup and the lead.

With Team NIKE’s back against the wall once again, Satterfield ran a pick-and-roll with Glover, who was fouled with 13 seconds remaining. Poof. Poof. Team NIKE up one with three seconds left. Ooh Way then heaved a desperation half-court attempt, but it was to no avail.

Game. Set. Match. Championship.

“I can’t explain this feeling,” Bingo said. “We had so many people doubting us, trying to get inside our heads. Our guys just fought through all the struggles and we used the haters as motivation. It feels great, and I mean great, to be Dyckman Champions.”

Mission accomplished, men.