Sitting on the edge of Coney Island in Brooklyn, Abraham Lincoln High School’s best known for producing Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair, Lance Stephenson and Isaiah Whitehead. But it’s really like any other high school in New York City, full of energetic young kids who love basketball, music and dancing.
Its small gym has been featured in movies and TV shows dating back to Telfair in the early 2000s and in He Got Game (it’s on Netflix now!). When Damian Lillard got on the mic in that famed gym, in front of 100 or so people last night, he said, “I know this is a legendary place, thank y’all for having me.”
Then he spoke for around 45 minutes, answering questions about mental preparation, how he’s dealt with the pressure the game brings. He talked about his family and his love of music. When one student challenged him to spit a freestyle, he paused. The whole gym was in the palm of his hand, waiting to see if DAME D.O.L.L.A. would be making an appearance. After a moment he said, “Y’all not gonna gas me!” The gym erupted with laughter.
There were shooting contests for $500 adidas gift cards. One member of the boys team against one member of the girls team. When neither one of them could make the shot, Dame tried, but he launched an airball from about 30 feet out. New shooters were picked and when they couldn’t hit, Dame scooped up a ball, took his sweatshirt off and swished the 30-footer.
After the shooting contests, one member from each team got picked for a dance-off. “Juju on That Beat” started blasting. The whole gym got sized down to just the dance circle. Dame was in there somewhere, dancing along with the kids.
Before he patiently took pictures with almost everyone in the gym, Dame presented the boys and girls teams with new jerseys and special D Lillard 2s. A new chapter in one of the most stories programs in New York is officially underway.
Photos courtesy of adidas