If you have ever had a look at the videos of the last years’ Quai 54 and were wondering about the realness of the footage, I can guarantee you, this World Streetball Championship is truly THIS hyped. Never have I seen such a colorful crowd vibing together and sharing the same love for streetball and the Jordan Brand. Before I anticipate the entire excitement, let’s go back to the beginning of our trip to beautiful Paris. Quai 54, let’s go!
BIENVENUE À PARIS!
DAY 1 – LE PREMIER JOUR
PUT IN WORK
Arriving at Charles de Gaulle around noon on our first day of the Jordan basketball adventure, we hustled our way through the entire city and took the fastest cab to our first stop: the Gymnase Jean Jaures. The unimpressive front of the building didn’t seem like a place where you would expect NBA players to show up, but probably this was the intention of Team Jordan – at least, the young athletes of the All Parisian Games had no clue that three Rising Stars of the NBA would soon enter the gym and guide their training session. The All Parisian Games, Paris’ U20 Basketball tournament, is much like the All Star Game: West vs. East, Rive Gauche competes against Rive Droite. Boys as well as girl warmed up on the court, all wearing Jordan performance shoes. While the girls were equipped with the red Jordan B.Fly, the guys were wearing the brandnew Jordan Super.Fly 2017 – what an eye-catcher! The infrared sole of the Js was vivid while the players were showing some serious skills. All at once, the movements in the gym slowed down as Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers, Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets and Jabari Parker of the Milwaukee Bucks enter the court. The faces of the young athletes were unique – so much joy and excitement when the stars of tomorrow saw their NBA rolemodels live in action. The event was designed to show the Parisian players different training procedures. Every NBA player was accompanied by a bunch of ballers at one of the three training spots and taught the talents some valuable lessons at the All Parisian practice. If you wanna become a professional player, put in WORK!
Not only were the young athletes impressed, but we were thrilled to see the NBA stars as well. The guys were such cool dudes – compared to some other NBA players we met several weeks before on another event -, they had no problem with being in contact with the youngsters, messing around and getting some buckets as well. While Oladipo has a very outgoing personality, Jabari Parker and Kemba Walker were rather focused on their guidance. It was a first brilliant test of the Super Fly – both NBA players and the young talents had bounce with Nike’s brand new cushioning system, the Nike React. Even if we did not had the chance to test the performance weapon by ourselves, the shoe did not only look great, but seemed to be the perfect equipment for a fly game.
THE FLIEST STREETBALL TOURNAMENT IN THE WORLD
One city, one crown, sixteen teams from all over the world came together again this year in Paris to battle in a vigorous Streetball World Championship. The Quai 54 is an event for the ultimate streetball fans sponsored by none other than the Jordan Brand. On two days in the Pelouse de Reuilly the motto reads “Bring your game, not your name“, as over thousands of basketball enthusiasts stormed into the city to experience the show live. After cancelling last year’s Quai 54 tournament due to the risk of terrorism, this year’s event wasn’t close to the Eiffel tower anymore, but in the Pelouse de Reuilly park. It used to be the core of the event back in the days and was the perfect location for thousands of basketball fans. Back to the roots!
We arrived at the Quai 54 and were greeted and treated with the finest selection of Hip Hop tracks. After we turned around the corner of the huge tribunes, the court came in sight. BLUE, RED, WHITE and BLACK were the colors for the weekend. From the beautiful court up to the Quai 54 themed Jordan outfits of the staff, the color palette was representing Jordan’s unique OG colors.
The entire court installment was very impressive, but the audience was the real highlight for us. The Parisians were a wild mixture of different cultures, ethnicities and styles. A dream come true for a sneakerhead – coveted Js were everywhere. Sometimes, it was rather difficult to follow the games while some of the most limited Jumpmans could’ve been spotted only meters away from you. OGs such as the Air Jordan I “Royal”,”Bred” and “Shattered Backboard”, the AJ III “True Blue”, the AJ IV X Kaws, strictly limited Foamposites, this year’s Friends&Family AJ I in the Quai 54 colorway, the AJ XII “Black Cat”, Air Jordan IV “Doernbecher”,… I could go on and on, but you see, the shoe game was strong!
Unfortunately, we missed the first games while we were on our date with the All Parisian athletes and the NBA players, but our first match on the Quai 54 Court was one to be excited about. Evan Fournier, french NBA player for the Orlando Magic, joined the Team La Relève with several french ballers playing in the Liga ACB and Pro A. Luckily, we were given a press badge by the Jordan Brand and could walk right onto the court and be in the heart of streetball at its finest. Tall guys everywhere, Jordans everywhere. Except some older Kobes and LeBrons, the ballers were all wearing this year’s Jordan basketball shoes in its Q54 colorways – the AJ XXXI in Low and High as well as the Jordan Ultra.Fly with blue white and red details.
The streetball battles were sometimes a rather minor matter compared to the entertainment. Two hosts were moderating throughout the entire event and their performance was first-class quality. Small acts in between the games were a great attraction: some serious dance battles, small kids showing of their moves as well, Half-Court shots, professional dance groups with so much talent, loads of jokes… there was so much going on. Unfortunately, most of the time we were just laughing along – the entire tournament was seulement français. Our rather poor French didn’t help that much to understand the jokes the hosts were making. Sitting in the first row, taking pictures and seeing all these excited faces everywhere – after all, basketball does bring cultures together.
Musically, the Quai 54 had a lot to offer as well. On the first day, several French Rappers made the court their own and the crowd go insane. I definitely have to add some of their tracks to my Spotify playlist, because they were pure fire. Tory Lanez was the main act for Saturday night and his show was intense. He was standing right in the middle of the court on a small stage while the rest of the parquet was filled with all the visitors. All those poor Jordan shoes were getting dirtier and dirtier throughout the event, due to a dusty road leading to the arena and people shaking their water battles throughout the Lanez concert. It was a welcomed cooling though – did I mention that this Saturday was not only hot, it was fire – both the entertainment and the temperature!
DAY 2 – LE DEUXIÈME JOUR
Another pair of Jordan on our feet, we made us on our way to the Pelouse de Reuilly to experience the second day of the Streetball World Championship. We were invited to the VIP Tribune and had a breathtaking view over the entire terrain. The four big tribunes to each side of the court named Quai 54, Jordan, Chicago Bulls and Air Time, were full with new faces, new outfits and new sneakers. Every seat taken, the entire crowd was vibing together again while the players were fighting their streetball battles.
Finally, it was showtime for us. The Jordan Brand made it possible to have an exclusive interview slot with the NBA players. All three of them were waiting in a small white tent for us. Sitting right in front of them, only inches away from the Rising Stars, was a great experience. It was a truly relaxed interview and we had so much fun talking to these guys. No diva attitudes with these three here! To read the entire interview, just check this blog entry of my colleague Philip talking about his first NBA interview experience.
Next point of our agenda was the amazing Dunk Contest. Man, that was a blast! Who else would have been better suited than the famous Dunk Elite to take part in the contest. The famous dunker “Miller”, “Lipek” and “French Touch” were the favorites and delivered a show par excellence. While the warm up was already a feast for the eyes, the contest itself was insane. Jumping over 7 people was probably the most entertaining dunk, but Miller nailed the under both legs to win the contest. Parker, Walker and Oladipo formed the jury and were hyped the same way the crowd was.
After the Dunk Contest, it was time for another music act. It felt more like an Open Mic session to be honest, but the french artists Sadek/Ninho, Maahlox Le Vibreur and Dosseh were fire. The whole crowd was singing and rapping along while the rappers were performing on stage. Afterwards, it was finally time for the Championship Final: LA RELÈVE vs LA FUSION! The first half of the final had it all: a murder crossover, two explosive dunks and a struggling NBA player. La Fusion was leading in points, but the weather wasn’t neither on the side of La Relève nor on the Quai 54 side. The game was rained off, it was literally raining cats and dogs. In less than 10 minutes, the entire court was flooded and the audience was hustling and taking shelter from the rain and thunderstorm. Unfortunately, the area was solely designed for good weather and – what had been a problem the previous day with too much sun – there was no shelter at all. Those poor Js!
We had it all: finest streetball skills, good music, an awesome atmosphere, fly kicks, NBA talks, explosive dunks, perfect weather, terrible weather,… Jordan had passed with distinction and mastered another great World Streetball Championship! We are looking forward to next year!
For a closer look on the brandnew Nike React cushioning system, stay tuned on our KICKZ blog.
Thank you for this unforgettable experience, Jordan Brand! Á bientôt!