If you have ever been in New York for the summer, then you know that the place to be seen on weekends is the Hamptons. So when AXE invited Dime to come hang with them and projected top-10 pick Kemba Walker at AXE Lounge in Southampton, we jumped at the chance.
After arriving at the Southampton Inn early on Saturday, I enjoyed a nice lunch at the hotel and spent the rest of the day relaxing poolside. At about 5 p.m., I went back to the room to take full advantage of the king-size Tempur-Pedic bed that awaited me. Good luck fitting one of those in your Manhattan apartment. At 9, I headed out with the AXE team to red|bar brasserie for a delicious dinner and learned for the first time what exactly “arctic char” and “baked alaska” were.
We arrived at AXE Lounge at 11:15 and were led to our table at the front of the club. Not surprisingly, the club was relatively empty this early in the night, which gave me time to observe the surroundings. But within 45 minutes it became clear why the likes of Paris Hilton and Kourtney Kardashian have made appearances there this summer. Of course, for Dime readers, these names mean nothing compared to Dennis Rodman, who celebrated his 50th birthday there last weekend. By all accounts, he still managed to grab every available rebound.
Contrary to most AXE commercials, wearing their body spray will not likely result in you being bum-rushed by 50 charging women (although it may help). Realizing this, AXE sponsors AXE Lounge to make this process happen more organically. There were no products being pushed, and aside from the expected branding of the club, AXE seemed to be concerned only with getting guys and girls together in a club setting.
Come 12 o’clock, the club was packed. And then, almost on cue – as the smoke machines were almost done spraying and waitresses were shuffling around with sparkler-topped champagne bottles â€“ Kemba arrived with his modest crew.
Writing for Dime, I have had the opportunity to interview Coach K, the Human Highlight Film and Tony Parker, but there is nothing better than the chance to put your pen and paper down and just hang out with someone; especially when this someone is two months removed from winning a national championship and on the precipice of the biggest day of his life.
Whether navigating his way between defenders or crowds at a club, “EZ Pass” is cool and collected. After posing with DJ Kiss for a picture in the DJ booth, he made his way over to our table. I took up a seat next to him on top of our booth as he surveyed the craziness ensuing on the dance floor. Kemba was rocking a pair of fresh AF1’s and I asked him about his all-time favorite pair of kicks. You can’t go wrong with his answer: the white and red Air Jordan XII (although I am more of an XI guy myself.) Kemba didn’t know what he would be wearing on Draft Night yet, but after I rattled off names like Joakim Noah and Tim Thomas, he assured me that he wouldn’t be joining their dubious ranks.
Kemba spent most of the night chilling with his crew and observing until Jay-Z‘s “I Just Wanna Love U” came on and he made his way to the dance floor. He appeared on “Showtime at the Apollo” three times when he was younger, so when I asked him if we would be seeing anything that night, he just laughed and signaled toward his glass. Because he is well beyond his age in so many ways, though, it never got to that point.
A few bottles of Belvedere later, I found myself taking a breather outside where I found Kemba joking around with his crew. I caught up with one of his boys outside, who told me that one thing that most people don’t know about Kemba is that he is a funny dude. This was just before he took credit for teaching Kemba everything he knew. I asked if this included the famous step-back, and when Kemba overheard him saying “Yes,” he shot him a glance that made the real answer clear.
Nearly all teams and scouts would say that Kyrie Irving is the best guard in this year’s draft. Potential-wise this is probably true. But year after year we see teams passing on proven winners for the promise of a player’s potential that oftentimes go unrealized. Luckily this year’s draft is not the deepest, so a GM will not be able to make the mistake of passing on Kemba Walker. J.J. Barea recently showed us that there is no such thing as “too small,” and Stephen Curry has demonstrated that one can go from having a shoot-first mentality to becoming a true floor general. In winning the national championship this past year, Walker proved that he has all of the intangibles required to be successful on the biggest stage. And after spending Saturday night with Kemba at AXE Lounge, I had the rare opportunity to know firsthand that he is truly NBA-ready.
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