Wednesday , Jun , 16 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

And 1 Mix Tape Tour: The ‘Soul’ of Street-ball

June 9th in Inglewood, California, thousands came out to see the ever popular And 1 Street-ball Mix Tape tour renewing “show time” back to the dormant Forum that used to showcase the The Lake Show, “The Mix Show” try-outs brought out 800 onlookers to watch about 100 people participating in try-outs for a spot to play against the And 1 team and 5,000 people in the Forum at night.

And 1 Mix Tape Tour: The 'Soul' of Street-ball

Stuffy basketball purists will tell you that streetball will be the end of organized basketball as we know it, but streetball is an evolution to organized basketball the way rap music drew on jass beats and Brazilian music from the 1980’s- streetball can be artistic and great fun to watch! The history of the Mix Tape Tour can be traced to the success of Rafer “Skip To MY Lou” Alston’s original and legendary mix tape, And 1 created a nation-wide tour last year featuring the best streetballers in the country. The tour became an instant success as ESPN’s Streetball show last year.


Khalid Salaam, a writer for the national basketball magazine, SLAM recently did a feature on the And 1 mix tape and stated, “The tour itself has created an almost cult-like following with hordes of fans in every city.” The basketball players that came out to try out on Wednesday were mediocre players at best, but they all had a fire in their eyes to prove themselves versus the And 1 crew, they looked almost as if they were jonesin’ for a hit of fame.


Each city on the tour has seven players that get picked way head of time by And 1 to play against the team, but eager streetballers can come in that day to audition in front of the And 1 crew and M.C. to receive one of the four Mix Tape”at large pink wrist bands spots.” One such hopeful contestant I saw that day was known as “Mexican Mike”, an early twenties hip-hop basketball player that called himself a “fly boy”, he was on a mission to get picked, incredibly, he had tried out eighteen times in several cities over the last two years, you could see a sense of desperation on the face of the not-so- ready for prime time player.

The And 1 M.C. announced to the amused crowd that Mike was going to get a chance to earn a “pink wrist band”, by playing “one-on-one” against a tough opponent, he would get his chance and shouted out to the crowd, “this a chance of a lifetime.” A chiseled guard named Santi Clause came out to play Mike and showed no mercy – just blazed past him for two quick baskets and a fast victory against Mike in less than two minutes flat, the hapless Mike even placed the pink band on his opponent out of good sportsmanship, cold end for a hot dream, but true to the streetball code of conduct to “show or go home.”


Unfortunately, the try-outs in the Forum parking lot were less than spectacular because no great players from L.A. came to show their stuff, all the Venice Beach ballers must’ve been too busy, or just scared to show against the And 1 crew, too bad, more than seven hundred on lookers were craving “big time” battles among top streetballers. The crowd that day did get treated to some nice side attractions in the form of the Big Red Gum booth, the Boost Mobile cell phone tent filled with “hoties” brought in to attract a crowd, and of course the exclusive Footlocker tent that featured the outrageous but styling new official “And 1 green, brown, and black fatigue jerseys”- the crowd seemed to love the jerseys more than the overall comp level of the “try-outs.” To be blunt, L.A. ballers that showed up totally stunk up the joint, mostly with their ball hogging and forced sense of cross over dribbling made the average try-out baller look modestly better than what my grandma could muster, no joke.


 


What does it take to get a pink wrist band to play in the main event? Out of curiosity I asked the mix tape’s six-foot-ten Troy “Escalade” Jackson who starred at Georgetown University before joining the team last year to offer his two cents about what it takes to make the cut at try-outs and get a pink wrist band, “Just play basketball, get buckets, and compete. Sloppy tricks and playing crazy aren’t going to get you playin’ against us.”


Jackson, like the rest of his teammates takes street ball seriously as witnessed by And 1’s faceless ball player logo on shirts along with the accompanying catch phrase, “street ball is my job.” Yeah, Hot sauce, the hottest commodity on the tour should be making six figures for all the smiles and entertaining tricks he brings to the game, he even has his own P.R. firm and tour called The Killer Crossover tour aside from the mix tape on the off season that keeps his unbelievable handles sharp as a knife, and wallet fatter than most streetballers in this country. Hot sauce would love to play overseas or in the NBA, but for now he will settle for being the torchbearer of street ball and is smart by busting his ass to license his name and get exposure through his company Urban Visionaries, he says his plan is to do this until LeBron James retires. This mad handles dribbler should also commended for his efforts to help out communities out across the nation last year when he visited two hundred schools and speaking about encouraging young people to be what they want to be in their lives.


In the night’s marquee match up game versus the L.A. challenging team saw some great one and one ball as when Hot Sauce went against former Compton Dominguez alum Kenny Brunner who played at Georgetown a few years ago.


Brunner just put a beating on most of the And 1 guards that night, at six foot one and 195 pounds Brunner was able to muscle the faster Hot Sauce and Pasadena based Robin “Sic Wit It” Kennedy who is a jet-speed point and has major game. Not one of the 5,000 fans that half packed the Forum came to see conventional basketball, they want to see mind boggling spin moves, the air steaming from Robert “50” Martin’s jersey as he just bashes a round sphere through the rim on hapless defenders, Martin is just as this incredible athlete who last year threw the ball off the “shot clock” from half court as an ‘alley oop” to himself that concluded with a thunderous dunk that gives each And 1 crowd what got they came for: action, thrills, and a sense of disbelief.


No fan that night seemed to care if you could score an ordinary 20 points in an And 1 game, they want style versus substance- the Harlem Globetrotter ball is what they want in entertainment, and boring basketball is welcome, no matter how high quality it is. In street ball, it’s all about how did you score your points, did you dribble through your defender’s legs to embarrass him and call out “catchin’ some vapors?”


The fans seemed to be satisfied for the most part that night, one such fan was Lynwood high school prep star, Sekere Henry. Henry said that he came out to try-out for the challenge team, but I watched this super hooper just get fazed out during his try-out because the local ballers didn’t even try to get him the rock- and this guy is the top six-foot-three shooter on the west coast. He went on to say that the And 1 game was a fun filled time where he could pick up some moves.


It was fun day , but one can only imagine how much better it would’ve been if the best L.A. ballers had shown up, maybe the best ballers will step forward year.