The Jordan Brand Classic has several factors that set it apart from the other All-American games: The gear is top notch, they have their own luxe practice court at Terminal 23, the postgame concert is relatively A-list — this year, it was Nicki Minaj — and best of all, there’s a good chance you’ll get to meet Michael Jordan.
But this week, its biggest advantage was its location, as the fans in Brooklyn were the perfect backdrop for Isaiah Briscoe carving his spot in Jordan Classic lore.
For the majority of Friday night’s game, things went pretty much true to form. Amid an NBA-style atmosphere that included fireworks, a legitimate celebrity row and M.J. lording over the proceedings from a skybox, the nation’s finest prep basketball players took turns launching three-pointers and breaking away for dunks. It was a fun game as always, but honestly nothing out of the ordinary.
As such, nobody in the relatively subdued Barclays Center had any clue about the magic that was yet to unfold — except, that is, for Briscoe.
“I knew once I turned it up,” the New Jersey point guard said after the game, “the crowd was going to go crazy. I just knew it.”
With about 5 1/2 minutes left, Briscoe — who had been pretty quiet to that point — completely changed the tenor of the entire evening. Channeling Magic Johnson in the 1992 All-Star Game, Briscoe called his own number again and again, going 1-on-1 against a rotating cast of peers. The crowd soon caught on that something special was happening, resulting in a huge ovation every time he started upcourt.
The action crescendoed when Briscoe used a slick spin move on defender Antonio Blakeney and twirled to the basket for a layup. The crowd went positively mental; one almost expected fans to run on the court and begin dancing, Rucker-style.
Amid such a wonderfully charged atmosphere, it was perfectly evident that the gutsy and talented Briscoe was fully in his element putting on a show for the fans in the Big Apple.
“Playing in New York, every game is like a playground,” Briscoe said. “Man, every game here is like that, besides like the Knicks of course. If a game like this is played somewhere else, it wouldn’t have gotten like that. You know, New York is the mecca of basketball. They love to see people compete.”
Games like the Classic are intended to offer up a glimpse of the future, and this past Friday was no different. Plenty of potential stars left lasting impressions, and Briscoe in particular looked like he’ll be a big factor on what will probably be another great Kentucky team. If his upward trajectory continues, he’ll likely have a good shot at the NBA.
But once in a while, it’s perfectly fine to take a moment to look back. And no matter where Boogie Briscoe’s journey takes him, he’ll always be able to reflect on the night he had an entire NBA arena, including arguably the greatest player of all time, hanging on his every move.
Here are four other things you should know about the Jordan Brand Classic: