Photo courtesy of Bryant Alexander.
By David Cordova
Back in the 1990’s, a lot of youths in America were enamored with the video game, NBA Jam, which showcased some of the most elite talents in the League in a 2-on-2 battle with an alternate on the sideline.
A 2-on-2 battle on the basketball helps out a player’s game because it’s just him and his teammate on the court and it forces a player to develop ball-handling skills and shooting, whether it be from 10 feet to 30 feet.
Now, in the present day, 2017, there was a live event that brought back that old culture. NYC Jam, a 2-on-2 tournament, was held on Friday, on August 11th at the Dunleavy Milbank Center in Harlem, and showcased eight teams, which was filled some of the best talent in the city and in the nation. The event was put together by Jeff Chen and Kashif Pratt, a big-time basketball figure in New York City. Also, they collaborated with the sports publication, Bleacher Report.
“The mission of NYC Jam is we wanted to create something new for the New York City hoops community,” said Chen. “It’s never been done before and it’s the first of it’s kind in a full-court, 2-on-2 format, so you know, the talent in the New York-New Jersey tri-state area, there’s plenty of good ballplayers, if you look at how the game is played today, it’s so fast-paced, everyone plays position-less basketball, one through five, so we put these kids in a format where they’re able to showcase their skills in a different setting, in a different platform than in a traditional game.”
When asked about the name of the event, Chen replied, “It was inspired by NBA Jam. You played NBA Jam when you were in the ’90s, NBA Jam was full-court, 2-on-2, with teams of three that would substitute in between quarters or at halftime, so you know it was a natural flip on the words, NBA Jam to NYC Jam.”
On the partnership with the Bleacher Report: “I shared it [the idea of NYC Jam] with a couple that I had a relationships with at Bleacher Report, they loved the concept, you know, we kind of mutually came to a partnership where we could collaborated and bring this to life.”
Also, they were wearing just any regular uniforms, but something fashionable from two different clothing lines. “What they’re wearing is something different, they’re not wearing traditional shorts and jerseys, they’re wearing heavy mesh, luxury shorts from Eric Emmanuel and bootleg jerseys from a friend of mine who designs that has a brand called Chinatown Market,” says Chen.
In the games, there were plenty of high-level talents on eight teams. Seven of the teams were the name of the NBA franchises such as the Bulls, the Knicks, the Supersonics, the Lakers, the Raptors, the Magic and the Celtics. The one final team was Team USA.
On Team USA, there were two nationally-ranked players in the Class of 2018 from outside of New York: Cameron Reddish, the No. 3 player in the country from Norristown, PA and Emmitt Williams, the No. 11 player in the country from Lehigh Acres, Florida.
The Sonics had Bishop Loughlin (NY) junior forward Richard Springs, Westtown School (PA) junior Jalen Gaffney and the No. 11 player nationally in the Class of 2020, Noah Farrakhan out of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, NJ.
Then there were prospects on other teams that were legitimate Division I prospects, such as Anthony Nelson, a Harlem native who attends South Kent School in Connecticut, Aidan Igheion out of Lawrence Woodmere Academy in Long Island, Bronx native Precious Achuiwa out of St. Benedict’s Prep, Atiba Taylor of the Patrick School in Hillside, NJ, Dallas Watson, a Brooklyn native who attends St. Raymond’s High School in the Bronx, Luther Muhammad of Hudson Catholic High School in Jersey City, NJ, Bronx native Jose Perez who attends Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut, White Plains native Bryce Wills of Iona Prepatory School in New Rochelle, NY, Khalid Moore of Archbishop Molloy (NY), Joe Toussaint of Cardinal Hayes High School (NY) and Souleymane Kouriessi, also of Iona Prepatory School.
The games were very exciting and there were plenty of ooh’s and ahh’s from the crowd and plenty of highlight-rising dunks. But in the end, there could only be one winner, which ended up being the Raptors, the team comprised of Perez, Muhammad and Wills, which made them the inaugural winners of the NYC Jam.
If this event were to come back next year, it would definitely be a great summertime event for all to witness once again, certainly because it is a unique event that not many has seen before. If it hasn’t already, it would give the public a new, fresh perspective on basketball. At NYC Jam, it has been shown that competition is always a must.
Highlights of NYC Jam:
Courtesy of Overtime.
Courtesy of 8Eye Media.
Courtesy of 8Eye Media.