After doing Thursday and Friday at A3C in Atlanta, I caught an early Saturday morning flight to Miami to be a part of a small group invited by Nike to attend the 2011 South Florida All-Star Classic aka “The ‘Bron, Wade & friends game” held at Florida International University. The court was filled with some of the game’s best, split between two squads lead by the Miami stars and the on-court matchup was filled with smiles, laughs and camaraderie in typical all-star game fashion. The first half was highlighted by fast moves by Chris Paul, DWade and Chris Paul. A few monstrous blocks by A’mare coupled with rim-rattling dunks by ‘Bron. The half went smoothly and according to plan, looking like a pick-up game meant to entertain fans.
Then, the second half started and the game’s feel shifted.
Things got more serious. Players got more aggressive. Bosom buddies Wade and James banged it out down low on the block. Jump shooters and more shifty players angled up, looking to draw foul calls on shots. Defenders began locking down the paint. What started out as a fan-driven event turned into straight up competition between the squads, only creating more fun for those of us watching. As time winded down, one of our hosts from Nike must have sneakily pulled a move out of the Buffalo Wild Wings commercial to grant us with an overtime.
The game ended with Team Wade pulling out the victory 141-140 but everybody won since the players got a chance to keep their skills sharp in front of an audience and the crowd damn sure got a lot of bang for their buck. “We want to show our fans it’s all for them,” Wade said. “We’re happy we can bring some kind of basketball to the fans.” Even further, the proceeds of the game benefited the Mary’s Court Foundation, which works with disadvantaged youth and families in Chicago and was established in honor of Thomas’ late mother, Mary Thomas. All in all, the game showed that players and fans – not a League, lawyers and lockouts – are the ones determined to make sure basketball doesn’t indeed stop.
Four Points To Note
1. The photos seen are a mix of my own plus ones provided by Nike. We had good seats, but I’m not a sports photographer by any means. Plus…
2. …I made sure to snap as many sneaker pics as possible. The “Basketball Never Stops” tees were dope (available for purchase soon I hear) but I wanted to see the footwear. LeBron officially debuted the “Cannon” LBJ 9’s and they were dope as hell in person. Rondo rocked the volt Hyperdunk 2011s and teammates Wade & Melo both rocked updated versions of their kicks, the the Jordan Fly Wade 2 and Melo M8 respectively. Chris Paul’s latest sig shoe, the CP3.V’s, in black and grey was clean as well and looked way better on the court than I could have imagined.
3. John Wall is stupid fast and has hops, both of which might be deceptive on TV. This kid looks like an unassuming twin to Soulja Boy but, dear Lord, he made plays happen with the flip of a switch.
4. A few of King James’ dunks damn sure seemed like he had every intention of not just bringing down the rim, but the whole stadium as well.
A full set of pics follow in the slides. Thanks to Nike Basketball for the invite.
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