Streetball spectacle

The other end of the court
By NEELY STEINBERG  |  June 18, 2008

086020_streetball_Main
STREETBALLER Astro launches for a dunk while PG-13 confirms
This past Saturday, while Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen were practicing their jump shots at the Staples Center in La-La land, in the opposite corner of the country, albeit at a less glamorous venue and without a movie star in sight, PG-13, Astro, 4-D, and a bevy of other renowned streetballers gathered at Durfee High School in Fall River for the second game of the 2008 Celebrity Streetball Remix Tour.

The Durfee High gym is a substantially smaller venue compared with UMass-Amherst’s 10,000-seat Mullins Center, where the Tour held its first event, in December. That show featured such crowd-pleasers as Special FX, recent winner of the Shaq/Slam Dunkman contest, as well as acclaimed streetball player and ESPN darling The Professor. At that gathering, streetballers were pitted against former UMass players; at the June 14 showdown in Fall River, streetballers went head-to-head with each other, playing the first half of the game “for show” and the second half “for real.”

Streetball, a commercial outgrowth of the urban pick-up-hoop scene, is characterized by comedic stunts and acrobatic slam-dunks. Aside from entertainment value, one of the genre’s primary tenets is philanthropic giving, whether it’s donating money to the communities where events are held, or visiting local YMCAs and community centers with messages of hope and positivity. The Durfee High match-up featured former players from the AND1 Mixtape Tour and the Ball4Real Tour — nationally recognized streetball teams (both have been featured on ESPN’s Streetball reality series) that travel from town to town, playing in either exhibition matches or competitively against local talent. Sweetening the court were some current athletes from iKeepItLocal, an elite group of young freelance streetball players who hire themselves out to promoters hosting competitions or tours.

Not that I’m a basketball aficionado or even really qualified to comment on hoop talent, but it should be evident to even the most neophyte fan that the skills these athletes possess are mind-bogglingly impressive, on par perhaps with the masters of on-court chicanery, the Harlem Globetrotters. In fact, the fabled team from 125th Street might want to carve out some spots on its roster for a few of the Remix Tour’s players.

At 5-5, Kadeem “PG-13” Powell might not be blessed with height, but he used his Napoleonesque stature to his advantage as evidenced by his signature move: crawling through the legs of his unsuspecting opponents, dribbling the ball all the while. The fastest and most creative baller out of the bunch, PG-13 delighted fans with his lightning-quick dribbling skills and his break-dancing-while-ball-handling prowess. Justin “Astro” Kennedy’s vertical leap was . . . how you say? . . . off the chain. At only 5-11, he seemed to defy the law of gravity with his 45-inch verticals. And of course, there was Danny “4-D” Ford — also known as “the white dunker” — who amazed the crowd with his endless arsenal of jam-nastics.

The night’s festivities, which included contests, audience participation, and raffles, was organized by Marion-based Deuces Wild Promotions, who — in keeping with streetball philosophy — contributed a portion of the night’s proceeds to the host school and to the American Cancer Society.

What’s next for Deuces Wild and the Remix Tour? Co-owner Ericca Rezendes and her business partner are hard at work planning an August three-on-three tournament and children’s clinic, four more streetball games in October, and a return trip to the Mullins Center in May 2009.

Saturday’s game played before a disappointingly small crowd of about 50. These guys definitely deserve a bigger audience.

For more information on Celebrity Streetball Remix Tour dates, visit celebritystreetball.com.

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