Going to a basketball game is a lot of fun. Unless, you’re on a tight budget. Then it becomes stressful. Tickets are often hundreds of dollars, and when you tack on expensive concessions and souvenirs, the price you have to shell out goes way up. Does that mean that if you want to see a great basketball game, you’re stuck sitting on the couch watching a screen?
Not if we can help it. Recently, Boost Mobile challenged Uproxx to take expensive, mainstream experiences and switch them out for more affordable, intimate ones. First, we went to Miami, then Detroit, and now we’re looking at Los Angeles with Uproxx hip-hop editor and hoops aficionado Aaron Williams (aka @AaronSmarter) trying to find a basketball experience that’s as dope as one you’d find in an arena. This quest took Aaron to Venice Beach — where large crowds flock to watch Venice Basketball League pickup games.
Seeing a VBL game is totally free (save for maybe a hot dog and a soda you pick up for a couple of bucks on the boardwalk). When you’re facing down a thousand dollar evening at an arena, a few dollars for the chance to sit front row at a beachside court — watching a game and having lunch — sounds like a pretty good deal. Plus, it strips away the formality. Nobody’s trying to make money here — ballers play for the love of the game.
“Pickup games are just the essence of basketball,” VBL’s founder, Nick Ansom, says, “showing up at the park, who’s got next, making new friends — it’s free, it’s fun, and everyone’s welcome.”
Will a free pickup game in Venice Beach be as fun and thrilling as a night watching your favorite team in person? Watch the video above to see if the VBL game can hold its own or rise above.