The World Basketball Festival has had New York on lock over the past week. A true cultural event, the tournament and lead-up spots have showcased the way the game’s incredible athletic feats have inspired a rich artistic legacy. Every facet of the sport was on show: from streetball shootouts to Madison Square Garden main events; from classic kicks to the latest hi-tech performance weapons; from the biggest names in contemporary art to children buzzing with untapped creative talent. It was a massive event that affirmed everyone’s pure love for a game that has grown to become a language shared the world over. Thanks to our good man Jason Faustino of Extra Butter we were courtside where it counted. Here’s his Festival wrap with a few teaser pics of all the action. We’ll take a closer look at every highlight over the coming days so stay tuned!
This past week the mecca of basketball, NYC, was taken over by the World Basketball Festival. The Nike-run event aimed to promote the sport on a global level, turning the Big Apple into a city-wide playground of art, music, sport, and of course sneaker culture!
Galleries, installations and unique shopping experiences popped-up everywhere, giving the city a basketball makeover that celebrated the game’s cultural and artistic side. The Ballroom in Harlem featured vintage sneakers, jerseys and basketballs that formed a time-line charting the sport's growth and saluting some of its greatest ever moments. Right down the street was Boulevard 134, a space completely devoted to the jerseys and footwear that would be worn by the players of the five teams competing in the Festival. Uptown sneaker mainstay Atmos was transformed into a full Air Jordan gallery space showcasing the For the Love of the Game range, a World Basketball Festival exclusive.
Further downtown, the 276 Bowery Stadium was home to the Make Something experience. Kids from all over the city had the privilege of working with Aaron Rose, Eric Elms, Carrie Mudane (Cassette Playa), and DJ A-Trak who hosted classes in art, print-making, musical production, and yes, sneaker design. The space was covered in wall-to-wall sketches and murals that the kids had worked on over the past few weeks. The brilliant minds of the NYC youth present were able to put together actual original samples of t-shirts, Destroyer varsity jackets, Converse All-Stars, and Nike Hyperdunks. The highlight of the workshops was a one-off hybrid that combined Nike, Jordan and Converse sneaker DNA. Sneaker freaks (and non-freaks) were left clamoring and buzzing in the hope that these products might one day go into full production
There was a lot of emphasis on the emerging young NBA players that would wear the Team U.S.A. jersey. Stars such as Oklahoma Thunder's Kevin Durant and the Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo made public appearances throughout the city, sharing their love for the game and enthusiasm for being part of Team U.S.A. Team Jordan and 2008 ‘Redeem Team’ Olympic Gold Medalists Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul also made fan appearances at Harlem's House of Hoops, as well as being on court for the inter-squad exhibition game at Radio City Music Hall.
Following a riveting game in one of the world's greatest sporting venues, there was a live performance by basketball enthusiast and part-owner of the New Jersey Nets - Jay-Z, who capped off the evening with an onslaught of his hit records featuring special guest appearances by Swizz Beats and Alicia Keys. Hova also teamed up with Nike to produce a super limited (one pair for each participating country) All Black Everything Air Force 1 collaboration. The five pairs are all up on eBay for auction with the proceeds going to Jigga's Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. (Pssst, there's still six days left on the auction if you've got a ton of money to burn!)
Back Uptown, Harlem's legendary Rucker Park was transformed into a Festival epicenter and housed exhibition games between Brazil, Puerto Rico and local basketball clubs, with the matches hosted by sneaker aficionado Bobbito Garcia plus other NYC streetball legends.
With sneakers and basketball going hand-in-hand, it was only fitting that on Friday night the world famous Apollo Theater played host to the premiere of Thibaut de Longeville's (Just for Kicks) Air Force 1 documentary Anatomy of an Urban Legend. The film featured shoe-lebrities such as DJ Clark Kent, Futura, and Training Camp's Udi, who all shared their passion for the twenty-five year old sneaker sensation.
With sneaker exhilaration peaking after the film, the next day involved trips to sneaker shopping staples - 21 Mercer and Niketown, which showcased the ultra-lightweight Hyperfuse that was seen on the majority of players and fans throughout the entire event. Headline act though was an in-store interview with Mr. Five-Time NBA Champion, 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, Kobe Bryant!
The on-court celebration commenced at the hub of basketball, Madison Square Garden. China vs. Puerto Rico and the U.S.A. vs France saw the global stars collide on the court for the final showdown which ended the World Basketball Festival, but simultaneously began a new marriage between art and sport. The game's cultural parameters have never been wider!
Thanks to Jason Faustino from Extra Butter for being our roving WBF reporter!