By Emily Gabriele | @EmilyGabriele
Last night EBCRucker Park brought street ball to the arena front. The Barclays Center hosted the first ever EBC American Celebrity Basketball Challenge. The event was a huge success overall, giving street ball players the opportunity to showcase their skills in the limelight of a big-name venue. In support of the event, hip-hop stars along the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, French Montana and Wale coached and oversaw the teams from the sidelines—each artist held down the coaching slot for their respective area.
The event featured some great musical performances peppered throughout. Most notably, Big Sean put on a killer performance, treating center court as his main stage. What else went on at this baller event? Lots of guest appearances from hip-hop heads from all around the NYC area. The list includes but is not limited to, LL Cool J, Fabulous, Joey Bada$$, Jadakiss, DJ Clue & Troy Ave just to name a few.
We had the chance to catch up with the legendary LL Cool J and get his commentary on the premise of the event. He began with a very forthcoming opinion on street ballers. “They are the players that are passionate about the game. It’s not about the money; it’s really about the winning and loosing of it all. To see them get to play in an arena like this is amazing. I’m very happy for them.”
LL also shed some light on his true belief of supporting street ball in its purest form. He added, “I have a street ball tournament taking place this upcoming August called, “Jump and Ball” over at O’Connell Park in Queens. It’s the 10th year we’re doing this type of thing.” LL is a long-time supporter of organized street ball and gave us insight as to why he feels it is so important to support. “Most importantly it’s about connecting with the community and connecting with your people. The inner city, we don’t have a lot of outlets.” We agree with LL, and feel that the street ball tournament at Barclays Center was proof that street ball is extremely relevant and a plays as a large part in connecting with the community, especially in New York City.
Oh, and of course we couldn’t let Mr. Cool J go without asking him about what’s coming down the pipe for him musically. “I’m at the point now where I’m in the age range that some kids don’t even know I make music. Because of that I decided to make another record.”