For the next five days I am in Washington DC covering the second installment of Nike’s World Basketball Festival. The event plays host to the celebration of both the culture and the game of basketball. DC plays the third city to host the event this year as it was broken up into four cities: London, Paris, DC and Barcelona.
On the first night of the event we were able to take part in the grass roots of the culture by watching the local Goodman League All-Stars play the Nike Team from New York City at Barry Farms, just south of DC. The Gates, as Barry Farms has become to be known; was refurbished as a part of the “Lebron James More Than Just A Game Tour” in 2009. The $50,000 donation was put to use to create a flawless playing surface for the league.
The Goodman league features high school players, college players, former NBA players and occasionally current NBA players like Kevin Durant. In fact you could go to say that “The Gates”, as it is known; is the home of KD. Since the age of 16 he would travel to DC in the summer to play in the league and last summer during the NBA lockout he put on a show there that was like no other.
For me, this was my first time at a summer league game with this much talent but the unique element of the game wasn’t the players on the court but the sixth man of the hometown team, the crowd. The crowd, or the whole community as it would seem; was on full tilt tonight. They let every player on that court know who they were there for, the Goodman League All-Stars. It was quite enthralling to see how much passion and emotion went into the game as every fan in attendance would hackle and get in the opposing players face. The game featured an MC, who was closer to Funkmaster Flex then Hubie Brown; that added excellent commentary that motivated players from both teams.
The game was close throughout the first half and then I started noticing two very large men circle the crowd and then all of the sudden the crowd split Kevin Durant and James Harden emerged. To say that the fan came out in me would be an understatement, I instantly rose from my seat to get as close as I could to get a photo of him. Kevin and James stayed around for the remainder of the game to see the hometown team pull out a close win, after being up by twelve at one point; against the Nike Team from New York.
*I apologize for the photo quality as I was only rolling with my iPhone tonight