Olympians, dunks, shoes and Nike Basketball

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was one of the judges at the Nike Basketball fan event dunk contest in Hawthorne, California. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

HAWTHORNE,CA-Saturday night at the Air Hangar in Hawthorne, California, turned out to be pretty a special night for Nike Basketball and the Jordan Brand. Team USA basketball members were in the house.

The Drew League held court. Chance The Rapper performed. R & B crooner Chris Brown showed up and was a willing participant in the Air Show Dunk Contest.

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The Air Show Dunk Contest had plenty of “wow” moments during the Nike Basketball and Jordan Brand fan event in Hawthorne, California. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

All was good. As it turned out is was a darn good weekend overall for basketball fans who filtered down to Hawthorne Municipal Airport to take part in two days of basketball clinics and saw the release of Hyperdunk 2016 and Air Jordan XXXI basketball shoe brands. Fans attending the event got a head start to buy the Air Jordan XXXI.

Everybody else will have to wait until September before they are officially released.

That didn’t make the Saturday, July 23 event less exciting. The weekend was a big deal for Nike Basketball and the Jordan Brand as they presented the two-day “Unite for the Game and Country” fan event.

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Chance The Rapper presented and performed a song at the Nike fan event on Saturday, July 23, 2016. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Before you even got to the basketball court, Nike Basketball and the Jordan Brand greeted you at the door with jerseys and shoes of former Team USA stars on full display in a silhouetted hallway splashed with images of current U.S. Olympic basketball players.

As you walk along admiring this fantastic display, you can’t help but notice the illuminating gleam of basketballs underneath your feet as you walk over the clear floor panels made to give this experience immediate impact. It works well because it gives off a breathtaking “wow” factor with just about each step you take.

The other impressive thing about the Nike Basketball and Jordan Brand setup is the private jet with the Air Jordan logo that was parked within a few feet of the hangar where two Drew League basketball games were played. On the opposite side, fans got an opportunity to get in on the interactive hyperdunk trailing experience.

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Team USA women’s basketball members Elena Delle Donne (left) and Tamika Catchings speaks to the audience at the Air Hangar in Hawthorne, California. The two Olympians appeared courtesy of Nike Basketball and the Jordan Brand partnered fan event on Saturday, July 23, 2016. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Then there was some real basketball actually being played. In the nightcap contest, Los Angeles Lakers teammates Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson and “Problems took on Baron Davis and his undefeated BB4L squad. It was quite a game. For Clarkson, this contest would be redemption.

After putting on a buster show in his Week 7 showing at the Drew League, where he received a chorus of boos, Clarkson played liked the $50 million man that he is, scoring 33 points for “Problems.” Nothing went right for Clarkson in Week 7 as “Problems” dropped a 98-76 decision to James Harden and LAUNFD.

He played tentative, didn’t attack and looked overwhelmed by the style of play. It was a different story in Week 8.  Getting in rhythm early, Clarkson finally showed off his inside/outside versatility game. Too bad it wasn’t quite enough to stop BB4L from recording another victory. Getting great play from Van Girard, BB4L defeated “Problems” 103-94.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson put on a show at the Air Hangar in Hawthorne, California on Saturday, July 23. Playing in the nightcap game, Clarkson scored 33 points in the second of two Drew League games played. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline
Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson put on a show at the Air Hangar in Hawthorne, California on Saturday, July 23. Playing in the nightcap game, Clarkson scored 33 points in the second of two Drew League games played. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

That was just a prelude to what to come. The story of the night was when Team USA men and women basketball team members Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings came and spoke to the gymnasium-pack crowd after Chance The Rapper did his thing on stage.

The real prize came at the end of the dunk contest in which young Michael Purdie claimed the top honor and took home an Aston Martin convertible as his reward.  It was a special night indeed.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1105 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.