Folks, what Kenny Masenda and Eddie Maisonet were able to experience on Thursday was nothing short of amazing. As you may have heard, the two of us have been invited by Nike to join their North American media to experience and cover Team USA Basketball and the World Basketball Festival. What has ensued can only be described with words like: tomfoolery, shenanigans, hi jinks, and sheer amazement.
This much is perfectly clear. Nike is serious on making the game of basketball global. As part of Nike's 8-year deal with Team USA Basketball, Nike has created an event called the World Basketball Festival, a celebration of basketball's culture and growth that supports the buzz for the FIBA World Championships. The national teams of Brazil, France, China, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. have all touched down in NYC to put on a show of magnanimous proportions.
Plus Kenny got to ask Rajon Rondo about Rasheed Wallace...which is epic by itself.
Earlier in the day, we got the opportunity to talk with Carlos Arroyo, Rajon Rondo, Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Chairman Jerry Colangelo, Yi Jianlian, and Kevin Durant. The two things I've taken away from interacting with everyone involved, is that one folks really care about the FIBA World Championships. These teams want to win. Did you know that the USA has not won the FIBA World Championships since 1994? Yep, the Shaquille O'Neal and Larry Johnson led team. Moreover, everything I'm hearing is that these closed-door practices are something truly special. War is the word I've heard most used.
Plus, just getting the chance to chop it up with cats like Carlos Arroyo, repping for Puerto Rico and recognizing the fact that dude is a cult hero back in the commonwealth. (Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, keep up) Coach K officially roasted me because I asked him a long-winded question. (Honest mistake) Jerry Colangelo is officially been dubbed "The Godfather" by myself, the dude's forward thinking and interaction with Team USA basketball is like a man playing chess. Always 3-4 moves ahead...
and then there was Kevin Durant.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Kevin Durant is the livest dude in the NBA. The dude has a quiet confidence about him that is fascinating, and having the chance to interact with him, he always seems genuine in who he is. Simply put, he's putting on for Oklahoma City, and has a burning desire to be an all-time great. Kenny asked Kevin a question about the crowds in Thunder games and Kevin's perspective on it, and to hear a player admit that he hears the fans but then feeds off of them even when he's not playing well is a tad startling to me. Not that players don't appreciate fans, but I've never head a player be so candid about it.
After the interviews and some other responsibilities for Nike, we got back to Radio City Music Hall for the game itself. By the way, Radio City, phenomenal venue. Also, Radio City, your logistics team and getting the media into the event was horrible. Thanks. Team USA decided to split their final roster of 15 into blue & white for a scrimmage and put in work. If you missed it, I'll tell you this right now, I'm more impressed with Andre Iguodala's game then I ever have been before. Kenny thinks if you get Iggy on to a decent team he could be an integral player in this league. He was your game MVP as the blue team won, 49-47 in sudden-death overtime on an alley-oop dunk by Tyson Chandler off a pass from Rajon Rondo following an offensive rebound on the first possession of extra time.
We heard from a bird earlier in the day that Jay-Z was going to be performing a concert post-game.
(an hour and 30 minutes later)
Kenny fell asleep, and I kept wondering when my phone was going to die. (R.I.P. at 11:38pm) Finally, Jigga man showed up and put on a show. Personally, I think I went nuts when he did P.S.A. as I recited the song word-for-word and the Chinese press behind me asked me how I knew the words verbatim. I told them, "I have no idea, its Jay...he's dope."
So that's that. There was also a bit of speculation in Radio City about the fact that LeBron James didn't get interview by ESPN and the emcees during the game. Please leave the man alone and let him be great...this is not a story. Thanks.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!