What a weekend!
After a rained out Quai54 2017 finale, the weather gods decided to follow last year‘s thunderstorms with a heat wave. And even though streetball is generally associated with good weather this year‘s tournament – held at Pelouse de Reuilly on the weekend of July 7th and 8th – was blessed with almost tropic like temperatures. This was what ballin’ in an oven must feel like.
The heat was on and all players proved to really #lovethegame. Playing basketball on a glowing hot floor is not for the faint hearted and yet loose-ball dives happened time and time again. But players at the Quai54 go extra hard. The title World Streetball Championship has that effect.
The tournament – held since 2002 and the only one sponsored by Jordan Brand – has managed to establish a stellar reputation among ballers way beyond the French borders.
As Europe‘s premier basketball dealer and online shop made by ballers for ballers KICKZ was invited as special guests to witness the #Quai54 two-day basketball bonanza first hand.
This is an eye-witness report.
It‘s a phenomenon I have seen many many times in basketball. Stage fright. Not a lot of basketball players get to play in front of thousands of people and just like with any other activity those nerves start to fly once you step on the big stage. With the World Championship on the line, the hoop looks awfully small, even for experienced pros.
Thus, some of the games of the 1/8 final were decided on sheer will to win and good fortune. It takes some time for players to phase all the side noise out. Eventually they did and that‘s when everything came together. An ecstatic crowd, super athletic ballers and weather that seemed to come straight as a gift from the basketball gods made for an exciting weekend.
Completely unfazed by all the hoopla team “Child of Africa” featuring NBA veterans Bismack Biyombo and Boris Diaw emerged as an early crowd favorite. This team stacked with players from the French and Spanish pro leagues played with purpose and quickly brought the crowd on their side with spectacular plays from point guard Andrew Albicy (Andorra) who found Biyombo (Charlotte) again and again for numerous transition dunks.
By the time the dunk contest started the place was jumping with energy. The perfect stage for a dunking competition that would go down in history with multiple dunks never seen before.
Let’s be clear about this. This was the Guy Dupuy show. The man known as “Frequent Flyer” and former member of Team Flight Brothers did things in the air most people would not even try on the ground. I’m not even sure people have thought or dreamed of this before. It’s just too crazy.
He did many eye-brow-raising things but these two dunks stood out and quickly went viral when people started posting their footage.
1.) Guy lined up behind the three point line. Nothing unusual there. Dunkers like to throw the ball high, have it bounce back up and then catch it in midair all the time. Kinda like a do-it-yourself-alley-oop. But Guy tried to shoot a three-pointer off the backcourt, run to the hoop, jump, catch the ball while it’s falling through the net and then dunk it in midair. Yeah, this has never been done before and the reason is because it’s extremely difficult. Almost impossible. First off, you have to MAKE the shot from the three point line. And it has to be off the backboard so the angle from which the ball falls through the net slows it down for an additional second. And you need that second to run from the three point line to the hoop. Then you have to jump, catch and throw down in one motion. Even as I write this I am still shaking my head. This was insane.
2) The idea of people jumping and dunking over stuff has been around as long as the dunk itself. Dunking over people, over cars, over motorcycles, tables, chairs … that’s all been done before. Guy Dupuy jumped over a bicycle. So what? It was moving! Someone was riding a bike towards him! And he dunked it off the bounce! See, dunking legend Kadour Ziani (google him because describing what he did for the art of dunking would literally take days) was riding a bike in circles on the court. Dupuy would throw the ball in the air, run and jump over Ziani coming towards him with his bike, catch the ball in midair and dunk it. This risk for someone getting injured on this are off the charts. I already saw the ambulance people getting nervous. Yet, Dupuy did it and he won the Quai54 slam dunk contest in deserving fashion. And that’s not to say that the other contestants were not good. They were excellent. But today Dupuy was unbeatable.
Young Thug & 2 Chainz
To close out the day we were treated to mini-concerts by superstar rappers Young Thug and 2 Chainz respectively. It was fascinating to see how the french crowd – which in most cases does not speak English and just shrugs when you ask them what time it is – knew the lyrics to these songs and sang along. Proof once again that there is no language barrier in music. As the sun had already gone down the Quai54 court offered an magical stage for the end-of-day celebrations.
The Championship Game pitted aforementioned Child of Africa against team Hood Mix, which had players of mostly Pro A and Pro B caliber. And even though Hood Mix gave it a valiant effort, in the end the experience and fire power of Biyombo, Diaw and point guard Albicy proved too much to overcome. The crowd celebrated Child of Africa with thunderous applause as both Biyombo and Albicy were named Co-MVPs of the tournament.
If you are a basketball fan and ever have the chance to go to Paris make sure you go there during the Quai54 weekend. It’s a colorful celebration of streetball culture, boasting the best of multiple worlds. Basketball (obviously), hip hop music, dance shows, rare sneakers, fun competitions and lots of comedy provided by the excellent hosts and MCs. Add to that a crowd that knows how to party and you have a unique atmosphere you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world. As this was my first Quai54 tournament I was pleasantly surprised about how authentic basketball was woven into the french hip hop culture and how outgoing the crowd was. For this basketball fan it was an eye-opening experience that will not be soon forgotten.
Paris, balls so hard. Thank you and much respect.
The limited Jordan QUAI54 collection is available at KICKZ. -> Click here <-