July 13, 2012 BY John Kim
In 2010, Nike launched the inaugural World Basketball Festival as a celebration of the past, present, and future of the sport. Taking place in New York City, the ‘mecca’ that many consider the beating heart of the game in its purest form, the World Basketball Festival captured the global and local influence of the game as the world’s best teams competed in the 2010 FIBA Tournament. Two years later, basketball will reach the pinnacle of international sports competition as the quadrennial Olympic Games touch down later this month, so in celebration of this momentous affair, Nike brought back the World Basketball Festival at a much larger scale, setting up shop in four major basketball-centric cities. Sneaker News was invited out to the World Basketball Festival to experience the game in Washington D.C., a city with its own feverish hotbed of basketball talent, and the first order of business was the make a stop at none other than the legendary court in Barry Farms, located in the Southeast of the Nation’s Capitol.
Upon arrival at the local landmark, the native atmosphere instantly fell upon the court; hundreds of locals piled in to watch their hometown Goodman League champion squad face off against the visiting Team Nike from New York City, but this Friday evening event was clearly more than just a game of hoops – it proved to be an unbreakable, bond-strengthening tradition that bled D.C. heart and boasted the rock-solid sense of community. The game was announced by local legend Miles, who manned the microphone and provided the jokes and jabs while keeping the crowd in order, and somehow the intense battle that was going down on the court was no match for the infectious positivity in the crowd. Even a surprise visit from hometown hero Kevin Durant and his Team USA/OKC Thunder running-mate James Harden didn’t seem to stun the crowd too much – he was embraced less like a prodigal son who made the occasional return home, but like a familiar face who never forgot his roots.
Onto the game: Team Nike and the hometown Goodman squad played fiercely from tip-off, with the crowd cheering with gusto and gumption for it’s D.C. bred stars like The Destroyer and ‘Ray Lewis’. The Barry Farm crowd, who welcomed Team Nike and the visiting media with open arms, didn’t allow its visiting competitors to come and go as they pleased; courtside regulars traded friendly blows with ‘2 Hard 2 Guard’ as well as former NBA pro and NY native Kenny Satterfield in a semi-heated back and forth that only fueled the intensity of the contest. The game went down to a final game-tying attempt by the New York squad, but Washington D.C. came out on top after a long and hard battle; even after a loss, both teams shared smiles and congratulatory handshakes, commending each other for playing with their hearts and putting on yet another legendary show. Getting a healthy sample of local basketball flavor was the perfect way to kick off the Nike World Basketball Festival, but tomorrow, the Festival continues on a larger scale with Team USA running drills with members of the Armed Forces, Converse celebrating with an amazing Block Party, and a special appearance by Jordan Brand’s biggest stars at one of the area’s most respected retailers. This is just the beginning of what’s shaping up to be the perfect glorification of the game, so stay tuned for continuing coverage of the Nike World Basketball Festival in Washington D.C. throughout the weekend.