Durant Vs. Beasley.
It’s official, the NBA is locked out. There’s a chance there will be no season and many players are considering playing overseas or working on side businesses. In New York City though, you’d might not notice that professional basketball was taking a break. Summer leagues pack outdoor and indoor courts to the rafters, with local players fighting for supremacy. Ballers come from college and overseas, and now NBA players are descending upon storied NYC courts more than ever before. After the madness of the Team NIKE versus Team OOH-WAY “Game of the Decade” at Dyckman Park just weeks ago, NYC basketball is hotter than ever.
Kevin Durant is the latest player to come challenge the New York players and take on the mecca of basketball. First he destroyed his opponents at the Rucker, scoring 66 points with a team from his hometown of Washington DC. Then, he made it rain inside at ProCity scoring 41 points. Then it was time for what is arguably the best and craziest tournament of the summer: Dyckman. After a rainout on Wednesday, fans from all boroughs and the young man called the Durantula descended on the Washington Heights court to join his sneaker endorsement family and suit up for Team NIKE. But Durant wasn’t the only NBA player to take the court on Thursday – Michael Beasley from the Minnesota Timberwolves came to play too. Beasley played for Team 914, named for the Westchester area code where the players reside.
Pre-game, Durant and Beasley warmed up in different ways. Durant was on the court as soon as possible, throwing up shots and knocking down a few dunks for the fans. He wore a pair of his signature model Nike Zoom KD III in the “Washington Redskins” colorway – the same shoes he wore at the Rucker and Pro-City. Other Team NIKE players rocked their special edition “Run With” NYC-edition Nike Zoom Hyperfuse 2011 makeups.
Michael Beasley ambled in late, as players were being called to their huddles. He swaggered around the court in a pair of adidas Superbeast and threw down a few showy moves and jawed at the crowd. Right away, you knew that Beasley was at Dyckman for the full experience, clearly he feeds off the crazy energy of the crowd around him – he wants to play streetball, not just regular basketball. While Dyckman wasn’t overflowing quite like the Ooh Way/Team NIKE game, it was still an electric atmosphere. Security was tightened so players had more room on the court and fans hung off fences and bleachers just to catch a glimpse. Fans even came as early as 5pm to line up for seats for the 9pm showdown.
From the tip, it was an incredibly fast paced game. Team 914 jumped to an early lead thanks to Aaron “Problem” Williams knocking down jumper after jumper. Durant took awhile to get going but when he did, it quickly became a mano-a-mano battle with Beasley. Beasley would drive the lane, throw elbows and get calls, partially thanks to incessant chatter. Durant would answer back quickly downing long jumpers or finishing up alley-oop jams whenever he could. There wasn’t much defense being played but Durant was knocked down a few times early trying to drive to the hoop – welcome to Dyckman, Durantula.
It’s quite possible that Beasley did not shut his mouth the entire game, including huddles. Team NIKE’s heckler got B-Eazy going early, screaming at him from the sidelines. Every call, Beasley had a response and exagerated hand motions. You could see him animatedly commanding the huddle from the other end of the court. It was evident that Beasley is not quite on his fellow NBA player’s level, after all, Durant is the reigning NBA scoring leader, but he still managed to keep up. They were assigned to guard each other so the elbows and hard fouls came out. Anytime they lined up together, Beasley was in Durant’s ear. Every now and again you would catch Durant yelling back, either at Beasley or the fans.
Beasley’s mouth and antics eventually got him in trouble off the court. A fan, who was apparently a friend of a Team NIKE player was talking trash with Beasley. As the two traded insults, Beasley eventually lost his cool and pushed the fan in his face. Fans erupted and Beasley was pushed back from the fan. When he tried to go back and apologize for mushing the guy’s face, Beasley was pulled back to the other end of the court. The game was delayed for almost ten minutes while the crowd and players settled down. From the reactions of Dyckman regulars who I was sitting with, fans were divided. Some called him a punk ass, some just said he was hood and standing up for himself. Insults and taunts are hurled from players and fans alike the entire game, so it was only a matter of time before tensions boiled over. It showed both the maturity of Durant that he was able to keep cool but also the sheer energy of the Dyckman crowds. If this was the NBA, there would be comparisons to Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest but this is New York City in the summer, and sometimes a player has to take matters into his own hands. Whether it was right or wrong, it was another night of intense basketball at Dyckman. It was also likely why Beasley stripped off his jersey and left the court right after the game.
Durant finished the game with 35 points in a losing effort, as Team NIKE recorded only their second loss of the season, falling 80-77. Team 914 wins a five thousand dollar pay day from Team NIKE, as it was promised that if you beat them, they’ll cut a check. Beasley completed the game with 20 points. It should be noted it wasn’t an NBA player that sealed the win, it was Aaron “Problem” Williams who nailed the clinching three. Perhaps all those nights at Dyckman helped him prepare for the pressure.
Check out more Dyckman game photos and close ups of Nike basketball footwear below.
Photos courtesy Nike Basketball & Antonio Garcia