This weekend, the best of USA basketball has converged in Washington, D.C. for a four-day celebration of the sport. So far at the World Basketball Festival, we’ve seen Team USA practice, Washington, D.C., L.A., New York and Chicago all take each other on for bragging rights in the City Tournament Of Champions and today, the Nike Global Challenge pits some of the best high school players in the U.S. against foreigners from the same age group. But before all of that, we took it to the streets, to what’s probably the best playground atmosphere in America: the Goodman League at Barry Farms.
Thankfully, Nike invited me out. I’ve been to Barry Farms a few times for various tournaments and photoshoots. But I had never taken in a game, never felt the atmosphere. There’s a back alley right next to the court, and a large dirt parking lot at the edge of the road. It was packed with cars, and felt a little like a block party. The court had been redone by Nike before we got there, but upon walking in, you can hear the famous Miles Rawls spitting out anecdotes. There are tents for drinks (and I mean ALL KINDS of drinks), and bleachers on all four sides. You want courtside seats? Get there early; locals are posted up on beach chairs in the front row.
Team Nike – a squad of the best streetball players from the Big Apple put together by the brand – came down to take on the best from the Goodman League, and the action was tight throughout the game. Adris DeLeon aka “2 Hard 2 Guard” was putting on a show for New York. He was getting into the lane and drawing fouls… probably the only player in the game who took more than six free throws. That wasn’t sitting well with the locals. They started talking, 2 Hard 2 Guard starting talking back, and the game took on a back-and-forth between the skinny guard and Baby Shaq, one of D.C.’s most famous playground players. 2 Hard 2 Guard banged two straight triples at one point before Baby Shaq produced the highlight of the night. The former AND1 player pulled out a hesitation crossover at the top of the key in the second quarter, and went straight down the lane for a big one-handed slam.
Among the other notable names for New York was Kenny Satterfield, the former Cincinnati star. Satterfield took himself out after about one minute before returning in the second half, and didn’t do much of anything all night. The Goodman League went up by 13 in the second half behind Boo Jackson and James Gist, formerly of Maryland fame, and eventually held on despite a late run from the visitors.
Kevin Durant and James Harden showed up in the first half, and the ensuing scrum around the scorer’s table sent the game into a short delay. They came without an entourage, showed up and stayed for the entire game, mingled with the crowd and John Thompson, and acted like they belonged. In the case of Durant, he doesn’t have to act. Goodman IS his home.