World Basketball Festival 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2vL6UsvVJ0
On a sunny Saturday, particularly suited to outdoor hoops, I ventured to the World Basketball Festival in Brixton.

I didn’t really know what to expect, but loving basketball as I do, I decided to try and capture my passion through the lens. I’ve only ‘shot’ basketball twice before, and that was indoors, so the potential spectacle that laid before me was mouth watering. Plus wherever outdoor basketball goes good music follows, so it’s a recipe for ticking many boxes on my ‘I love list’.

Queuing for NBA Greats, Slam-Dunks & Hip-Hop

The event sponsored by Nike was initially outdoors in the afternoon, with a follow up indoor event in the 02 Academy, Brixton, with former NBA great Scottie Pippen, our own Luol Deng, and Big Boi of Outkast fame on the bill, with proceeds going to Luol Deng’s Basketball Foundation. (I didn’t attend the event at the Academy, but I’m told that went really well.)

When I arrived I was a little surprised by the format. There were only two activities going on, and the third main event was on an enclosed outdoor basketball court which you had to queue to get to. Now this was all free, but I waited 20 minutes to get on the outdoor court to watch the main events not bad, but I was the last one allowed through. Others had to wait in line for well over an hour.

First Impressions

I don’t want to be over critical of a free event, but it was claiming to be a ‘World Basketball Festival’. That’s two Nike sponsored events I’ve been to now, where the spectator experience was not really catered for. Ok, so I did get in where others didn’t, but when I did, my view was obstructed by the scorekeepers (why place them in front of the crowd?) and a video camera man. I eventually managed to spot a lone seat in a better position took my chance and went for it, and removed my lens cap.

From here on in, I had a great time, and my first impressions evaporated. I was treated to watching ‘half-court’ basketball games for half an hour, followed by a very high flying dunk contest, judged by a basketball hero of mine, Scottie Pippen.

The verdict: great event, better organisation needed

I spoke to a few people around the event. Spectators who were disappointed with the organisation and others who were having a great time. A couple of young lads I chatted to afterwards said it was a shame there weren’t more events like it. One of the participants told me the court surface was poor and the half court games too short they maybe tried to fit too much in.

It’s difficult to be overly critical of a free event, when many people had a good time (and as said I can only speak of the outdoor activity in the afternoon). It certainly came good for me, as you can see I got some decent shots. But from a basketball showcase perspective, it was possibly a victim of its own success. By claiming to be a World Basketball Festival, it was making a very bold statement, so to have just the two activities within reach if you didn’t want to queue for the court was a little low key.

The court itself had player participants down one side, and spectators on another. I think organisers have to decide who this is for. If it’s spectators to advertise the glory of what is an incredible sport, then more seating and better viewing is a priority.

Other venues maybe better suited, but right now, we have to accept that Brixton, as Luol Deng‘s home town, is the sentimental link to our most successful NBA player. I’ve never met Luol, but know many who have or know his family, and the humility and passion with which he gives back to the community is something to be admired. I cannot fault the desire to have this event in Brixton because of that link.

As I mentioned, the evening event sounds like it went well, and overall I was very happy with what I saw. Next year though, perhaps the event should be a little more ambitious and live up to its billing.

Photographs by Sloetry. All Rights Reserved

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