Chicago is a city well aware of its negative stereotypes. The Windy City is also well aware of its culture, history and, most importantly, pride. As I’ve said on countless occasions here before, my time in the city was one of the more fulfilling experiences in my life. And for a basketball junkie like myself, there aren’t many places in America with the athletic identity of the sport woven into its fabric more than Chi-Town. Shot by TSS’ own Devin Chanda and his film crew, Scheme Engine, the group takes a look at the sport and its vitality to the city’s lifeline with Ball So Hard.
Naturally, when the term “basketball” and “Chicago” are linked in the same sentence, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls aren’t far behind. And while MJ and those 1980’s and ’90’s squads he led will never be forgotten – nor the present day superstars like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose and Knicks rookie/probable future PG Iman Shumpert – there happens to be a crop of young and supremely talented young men waiting to etch their names in The Chi’s long storied playbook. High school sophomores Tyquone Greer, Jahlil Okafor, and Paul White along with others all help narrate the story of present day Chicago’s basketball landscape.
The clip is lengthy, but well worth the price of admission if you live, breath and talk basketball. On one hand, their dedication to making a better life for not only themselves, but their families as well, is a noble act by young men barely old enough to obtain learner’s permits. On the flip side, however, there’s this uneasy feeling of “what if?” Through several conversations I remember having with younger and older heads alike in the city, for a great majority, the only way possible to escape the endless cycle of poverty and violence is through, as Biggie Smalls once coined it, “a wicked jump shot.” Should this be the train of thought? No, but the reality of the situation is as crisp as these young men’s ball handling abilities.
Again, clear some time out of your schedule, but know it’s well worth the adjustment. The entire Scheme Engine team put together a noteworthy and respectable piece worthy of discussion afterwards. Maybe I’ll hit Devin up and see what I can do about taking this show on the road and putting together a documentary like this about basketball in the DMV. Lord knows it’s talent out there as well.