With the NBA All-Star Game rapidly approaching, the timing for J. Cole’s announcement of his new partnership with athletic apparel brand Puma couldn’t be more fitting. You’ll recall that at last year’s All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, J. Cole helped fellow Carolinian Dennis Smith Jr. with one of his dunks during the dunk contest before attempting a dunk himself. While Cole’s attempt fell short, it was a fun reminder that although he’s a big name in hip-hop, his love for hoops is just as deeply rooted. A new short film, Dreamer, recounts J. Cole’s continuing love for basketball even after all his success in the rap game.
The film opens with a trio of young players watching grown-ups run a game of five-of-five at the park. One of the youths — an obvious stand-in for a tween J. Cole — takes each opportunity to step on the court when the game moves to the other end, but gets caught daydreaming and interrupts the game each time. After a while, the older players take his ball and chuck it, a familiar eent for anyone who grew up trying to play with the big kids.
The remainder of the film sees young Cole working on his game in both archival footage of the real J. Cole taken from his home movies and modern-day Cole working in the gym. The film even incorporates his failed All-Star dunk as part of the process before closing with him finally pulling off the real thing. The clip is soundtracked by two classic soul songs: Labi Siffre’s “My Song,” which was sampled by Kanye West on “I Wonder” from Graduation, and Billy Joel’s “Vienna.” They lend it an even more nostalgic feeling as baby Cole jokes that “I think we’re sorry” and plays in the park alone at night.
Meanwhile, Billboard reported some of the details of Cole’s brand ambassadorship. It’s a multi-year deal which not only includes the above short film, but also sees Cole helping to introduce Puma’s latest basketball silhouette, fittingly titled Sky Dreamer. It’s a reimagining of a mid-top ’80s classic for the brand, featuring an ankle collar — a somewhat long-forgotten addition in the Kobe-inspired era of low top basketball sneakers. It’s available now with a retail price of $130.
Watch the nostalgic Dreamer short film above.