It’s often said you can’t know where you’re going unless you remember where you’re from. The 2011 NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles was a homecoming for Milwaukee Bucks sophomore Brandon Jennings. He’s gone from the playgrounds of South Los Angeles to the bright lights of the NBA. But it was at Rowley Park where he first learned the game and Brandon returned with a special gift to the next generation of kids in his original neighborhood.
As Under Armour’s marquee basketball athlete, Brandon Jennings and UA teamed up to give back to the community where BJ learned his swagger and his scoring touch that exemplifies the Under Armour mantra. Rowley Park, located in Gardena, California (just west of Compton) received the full UA treatment. The court was done up in Bucks green, red, black and white with Under Armour and Brandon Jennings’ logos adorning the new space. The actual court floor was created from the “PowerGame” outdoor modular sports surface developed by Sport Court. PowerGame surfacing was developed to reduce abrasive skin injury and is advantageous for growing bodies as it minimizes wear and tear on joints. The new Rowley Park court and basketball hoops are all NBA regulation, complete with acrylic backboards.
From a footwear perspective, I’ve never seen so many pairs of Under Armour shoes both on the court and on fans. Most were in the Micro G Black Ice in the “Gucci” or all black versions. Brandon sported Black Ice lows in all black. Milwaukee Bucks jerseys and tees dominated the wardrobe choices along with local school team shirts. Only a few pieces of Lakers gear were present which was a noticeable difference from the rest of the weekend. Purple and yellow were the weekend’s most dominant colors in Los Angeles.
The Rowley Park event was one of my favorites among the 2011 All-Star festivities because it really felt like a community experience. There was a mobile barbershop set up, a ribbon cutting ceremony with Brandon and the mayor, families hanging out while watching their kids play, and tons of food and product dished out. Due to my flight being delayed I missed out on the speeches, but arriving from frosty Toronto to a sunny afternoon in South Los Angeles under the palm trees was a great introduction to All-Star. Kids were lining up the length of the court for a chance to play HORSE against their local idol, talking a little trash and getting some dap. I expected to see some other local players like DeMar DeRozan at the event, but this was clearly Brandon’s moment to shine and connect with the community. I only wish the line for the barbershop wasn’t so long so I could have gotten my fade touched up with the locals and have a fresh cut like Brandon.
Crossing Inglewood and Van Ness Avenues felt like not just going home for Brandon but for the roots of his basketball game. Seeing area kids play and shoot buckets while sharing the court with family supporting them – it was a true community experience.
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Images via Alex J. Berliner/abimages/Under Armour