I just got done watching the Untold documentary on Netflix about the company AND1, and I learned so much about Street Ball that I didn't know. For example, I learned where the heck it went. haha. Either way, this post isn't so much about that company, because you can just watch the documentary. But this is about my experience as a youngster, growing up during the rise and fall of street ball.
Now I don't remember the exact year for everything. But I can tell you, I don't think I ever had a dream to play in the NBA. I wanted to play in the MLB and NFL, but as far as my third favorite sport went, I wanted to play Street Ball. It was so awesome. The dribbling tricks and the way guys would just make their opponent look completely lost, it was hilarious yet magical. All of my friends would do (attempt) tricks that we had seen the legends do. Hot Sauce was incredible. But they were all incredible. It was so fun! The way they would put the ball in their shirt and spin it in a circle. The no look alley oops. The way they would throw the ball off the persons head or between their legs. The fake passes, the trickery, its hard to use any other phrase other than, poetry in motion. Thats exactly what it was. It was some form of art combined with basketball and those were some of my basketball heroes before I got interested in the NBA.
At some point, NBA Street was released on PlayStation and all of a sudden I was actually able to do all the moves that I had seen them do. Off the Heezy! (That's the bounce off the opponents head btw) Man it was a blast! You would get style points and it was all about how many awesome tricks you could do. Yeah, I'm just reminiscing right now. Either way, it's crazy to me that it just sort of disappeared.
I do recall the Slam Dunk contest that Vince Carter participated in. It was the most incredible display of dunking I (and anybody) had ever seen. I did not know he was wearing AND1 shoes though! Pretty cool. Then I do remember that commercial that Nike did. Where they showed how hip-hop they were and how they associated their brand with Street Ball. It was definitely a dope commercial with a cool beat that was created by bouncing a basketball. It was creative! But I had no idea that that was essentially what crushed AND1 the company.
Now as I grew older, I didn't put much thought into why Street Ball was no longer mainstream. But I continued going to basketball courts, playing pick up, and just playing literal street ball. That was where I had the most fun with a basketball. I never really did organized basketball. I didn't really run plays, set picks, do rolls, none of that. I just did fake passes, tried to break ankles, and make shots that looked majestic. Granted, I wasn't able to execute a lot of the incredible tricks they could do. But I had still had countless moments of joy playing. "The Professor" seems like one of the few basketball players that was really able to train himself to be as good (and in many ways better) than the original legends.
I never realized just how much of an influence Street Ball had on me until now, but it definitely did. And I'm glad I watched that documentary. Because it was a reminder of MY hoop dreams. To be someone that could make the crowd “ooooo” and “ahhhhh.” Someone would ask me if I played sports and I'd say I play football, baseball, and basketball. But when they asked if I played on a team I said, "yes but not for basketball. For that I play Street Ball." I can't make this shit up!
Leave a comment if we've ever played basketball together, and tell me your favorite move. Mine, is the mid range FLOATERRR... and SWISH!!
Here a video of The Professor back in the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vglS7j0c4To
And here is Hot Sauce: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWyZwYd7g5A&t=56s