In part two of his Nike World Basketball Festival blog, Jake Green finds himself in the presence of Michael Jordan, catches Jay-Z performing live…and even hits a shot at Rucker Park!

We’d already had a busy first day in New York, but the fun and games weren’t over yet. That evening we hit the Radio City Music Hall to watch Team USA play a World Champs warm-up exhibition game.

The venue was amazing – and it was cool to see the likes of LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Amar’e Stoudemire sitting courtside. But the game itself, given its friendly nature, wasn’t massively exciting to be honest. Until the end, that is. Tied at the end of regulation, the contest went to overtime and a “first bucket wins” situation. Suddenly it got serious! But the Blue Team had the last laugh as Tyson Chandler chucked down an ‘oop from Rajon Rondo.

But the main event…the reason why 6,000 free tickets had been ravenously snapped up by local kids and community groups, the reason why people were queuing around the block in the rain, the reason the whole thing had been re-located from Times Square to Radio City for health and safety reasons…was about to happen.


Your boy back in the building, Brooklyn we back on the map

Yep – Hova was back in his hometown to officially tip the festival off.

After DJ Premier had warmed up the crowd, Jigga took to the stage – complete with full live band and a backdrop of the New York skyline. He was in nostalgic mood – playing old classics and predictable bangers like “99 Problems” and “Empire State Of Mind” (he had to, but unfortunately without Alicia!!). Jay’s romanticized description of the Big Apple is amazing – and even more engaging when you’ve come fresh from roaming its streets.

This whole extravaganza was a spectacular celebration of basketball. I sat and wondered how the 2012 opening ceremony might measure up… I’m guessing Lemar and Leona.

Jay was a hard act to follow, but the next morning I was treated to breakfast at Rucker Park with Michael Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, D-Wade and CP3.

MJ, D-Wade, Melo and CP3 at The Rucker

It took me a while to work out that this was an event paying homage to the days when Jordan and Scottie Pippen would get up early to practice bball (they called it “The Breakfast Club”) and not merely an opportunity to sit around eating croissants and drinking coffee with some of the biggest names in basketball!

With local kids treated to a practice with these guys, it was an inspiring event – focused on hard work and dedication.

I will admit to being in total awe of MJ, even if he was wearing a baby blue velour tracksuit!

I even got the chance to shoot a basket on the legendary streetball court with iD regular, SBTV dude and RWD contributor Liam “Mr Hollister” Tootill.

Having previously only really seen The Rucker in Kevin Couliau’s iconic images, it was great to be there myself and to form my own view of the court. And the Brooklyn vs The Bronx “Battle of the Boroughs” was the perfect opportunity for me to see some real streetball action.

The game was played on a specially-laid, sprung wooden floor (so not that street after all!). But this too was a close one (finishing 58-56 in The Bronx’s favour).

Even though it was still early, it really gave me a taste of the atmosphere that makes Rucker so famous.

Oh yeah – hold tight MC Boobie Smooth….mad funny.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • MySpace
  • Print

You must be logged in to post a comment Login