The 2005 Nike Battlegrounds feature full court basketball instead of one-on-one battles. The matchup is Chicago vs. New York. LeBron James is a host, of sorts. Ben Gordon helps lead the New York team. Andre Iguodala helps lead Chicago. Neither is playing. They assist in the selection of the players.
Battlegrounds let lots of players try out. I'm not sure if there's an age limit. It appears there is, as most of the guys are pretty young. Like, late teens or early 20's.
The first few episodes show days of rugged tryouts, highlighting some personal stories of the players involved. A few episodes into the six-ep series, the final cuts were made.
In the actual game, showed in the series finale, Chicago dominated the first half, talking the most insane amounts of trash you will ever witness. During halftime, the New York coach did a masterful job convincing his team to stop getting stomped and to show pride and step up. Meanwhile, the Chicago coach told his team they did pretty well but should have put the game away already. The score was something around 40 to 22 at the half. Give or take.
In the third quarter, New York got fired up and made an incredible comeback. InsideHoops.com main man Cameron Tyler was huge. The quarter ended with Cam getting fouled at the buzzer, missing the shot but hitting two free throws to tie the game at 52. "It's a whole new game!" yelled a New York player.
In the fourth, the game remained close, but as the period went on, New York slowly extended a lead, going up 78-71 with a minute and a half left in the game. And the final score was New York 82, Chicago 78.
The game's MVP went to Killa Cam (Cameron Tyler).
The 2005 Nike Battlegrounds were a fantastic production.
2004 Nike Battlegrounds
The 2004 Nike Battlegrounds were in the usual older format of one-on-one battles. Only this year, it went overseas. And as far as we know, a player from France wound up beating the American Battlegrounds champ. We're not sure of the details.
2003 Nike Battlegrounds
July 29, 2003
The New York City regional finals for Nike Battlegrounds was Saturday night, July 26, and the crowd got definitely got more than their money's worth.
The Nike Battlegrounds event was free. With the scenic Brooklyn Bridge looming over the impressive makeshift court set up at Empire Fulton Ferry State Park in Brooklyn, fans were treated to an awesome setting, a rap performance from the infamous Mobb Deep, terrific music all night long from DJ Enuff, top-notch announcing and funny stuff from John Salley and friends, and great dancing from beautiful women and cool guys.
And, there was basketball.
Nike battlegrounds as an event was so well that had basketball not even been played, it still
would have been a great night. Just hearing great music, watching hot dancers
and listening to Salley rant and rave about everything under the sun is more than
Battlegrounds is a one-on-one streetball competition. First, regional Battlegrounds champs are established in a few select cities around the country. In August, the regional reps all meet in New York City to compete for the national 2003 Battlegrounds title.
There were 32 New York players. Tonight, the regional finals, was between eight local finalists.
Last year's national Battlegrounds champ was Mike Campbell. He was here tonight to watch the 2003 NYC regionals.
The 2003 Nike Battlegrounds New York finalists were Seth "Up North" Marshall (Fresno State),
William "Junie" Sanders (Central Oklahoma), Kareem "Easydeuce" Lewis (Coppin State),
John "The Franchise" Strickland (Hawaii Pacific), Tariq "Captain Kirk" Kirksay
(Iona College), Larry "Quiet Storm" Jones (St. Thomas Aquinas), James "Speedy"
Williams (Medgar Evers) and Greg " Big G" Hardin (Hunter College).
That's right. Everyone has a nickname. They call me Jeff "Make it Rain" Lenchiner. Because when I fire shots 25 feet from the rim, all you'll hear the crowd yell is, "It's raining! It's raining threes!" Nothing but net. Yeah, what!
(Be warned, my nickname may change by the time I write my next streetball column. These things can happen overnight.)
The style and substance of each Nike Battlegrounds game depended greatly upon the individual style of the players. The big guys naturally try to rely on their size and strength, often resorting to just backing down the defender over and over, shooting jump-hooks near the basket. The little guys try to penetrate, but when defied, they need to hit the outside shot or they're going to be sent home. A handful of guys are versatile enough to pound inside as well as make it rain from three-point range.
Before the games started, a slam-poet unleashed strong words about winning and losing, war and peace, life and death, targeted towards the competition but with meaning far greater than basketball. A "march of death" military drums instrumental accompanied his strong words.
As the games progressed, it became evident that the more versatile players had a major advantage. Little Speedy Williams, who is hugely talented but limited by lack of size, went far, but was stopped. And while big bad John Strickland is definitely skilled, he was one of the four to get defeated in the finals first round.
A freestyle rap competition in-between games led to a chorus of boos from the crowd. It's not that the contest wasn't welcome. But this is New York City. People are hard to please. If you flaunt mic skills aren't A+ material, the crowd will quickly tell you to get off the stage. After three MC's failed to impress, and a fourth who was actually reasonably good yet still received boos, the fifth contestant unleashed a highly-skilled beat-box performance that earned respect.
After the amateurs tried their thing, the infamous Mobb Deep, an accomplished, experienced rap group, did their thing, treating the crowd to several songs.
John Salley is the best host imaginable for this type of event. The man is flat-out funny.
The actual basketball half-court is surrounded by a tall cage. At the top of each corner of the cage are lit flames. Every time a player scored, the flames would shoot up.
The music never stopped. All through the games, DJ Enuff unleashed hot songs. The announcer mic volume is loud and can easily be heard over the music.
In the end, Junie Sanders, at 6-4 and 195 pounds, proved to be too versatile and too good for the competition. His NYC regional championship finals game was a blowout win. It wasn't even close. As winner, Sanders got $10,000, plus $5,000 to give to a charity, and some extra gifts.
I'm not going to tell you who came in second. This is Battlegrounds. Win or go home. Junie won. Everyone else went home. That's all you need to know.
Fans went home happy.
The Battlegrounds finals are in New York on August 9. If you can't make it, be sure to hit InsideHoops.com, the best basketball website on the planet, for coverage.