As cliche as it sounds, basketball really does produce its own unique, universal language. In any given NBA game, you might see a five-man unit composed of one player who speaks French, another who speaks Spanish, another who speaks German, and two more who speak their own regional dialects of English — and yet they can still communicate fluidly and win games at the sport’s highest level.
When the Red Bull 2on2 Revolution tour stopped in Washington D.C. this past weekend for its finale, the old cliche was on display. Stephen Da Silva and Jon Mowl, who teamed up under the name “Staples,” are both deaf and don’t wear hearing aids.
Da Silva and Mowl played together for one year at Division-III Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing in Washington D.C. Mowl, a point guard, averaged 18 points per game as a junior (’07-08) and played for Team USA in the ’09 Deaflympics in Taipei, but said before the Red Bull tournament that he hadn’t touched a basketball in three months because he’d been devoting his time to his newest athletic venture: wakeboarding.
Off the court, Da Silva and Mowl communicate via sign language, and on the court have other tools at their disposal.
“Some sign language,” Mowl responded to my written question. “We rely mostly on instincts.”
Team Staples advanced past their play-in game, but lost in the first round of the 32-team bracket. The team that beat them, “B-Ballers,” went on to lose to D.C. playground legend Andrew “SpongeBob” Washington‘s team in the Elite Eight.