Perhaps you’ve heard about this thing we’ve got going on called the World Basketball Festival. No big deal, just a blockbuster four-day weekend dedicated to the greatest sport in the world, taking over the greatest city in the world, and attending by the greatest athletes and entertainers in the world. After Day 1 saw a Team USA scrimmage and Jay-Z performance at Radio City Music Hall, Day 2 was spent almost exclusively at historic Rucker Park in Harlem for a star-studded schedule … Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul got it started at the Jordan Breakfast Club clinic. And while those three were giving instruction and playing ball with a group of lucky kids, there was a surprise appearance by none other than Michael Jordan himself, decked in all Carolina blue everything. It’s crazy how MJ can still turn a bunch of grown men with good jobs into a giggling mess … Although Jordan had to take off to make it up to Springfield, Mass., for the Hall of Fame inductions later that night, ‘Melo, CP and Flash sat down for interviews after the clinic. We asked them how the events of this postseason — Denver and Miami going out in the first round, New Orleans missing the playoffs — served as motivation for next year. ‘Melo had the best answer: “Just look at my face, dog.” CP talked about his injuries and committing himself to getting healthy this summer, then added, “I guess D-Wade took a different approach.” … While the games featuring high school stars from China, Puerto Rico, Brazil and New York were intense and entertaining, the senior national team scrimmage between Brazil and PR was the exact opposite. Leandro Barbosa, Anderson Varejao and Co. never went higher than half-speed (at best), and while Carlos Arroyo‘s squad picked up the pace a little bit in the second half thanks to Arroyo feeding guys alley-oops, they weren’t exactly at their best either … Afterwards, we got up with Barbosa, who talked about why he asked out of Phoenix and why he’s happy to be with the Raptors. We wanted to ask Nene about the Carmelo contract extension thing, but he said he didn’t want to talk about anything NBA-related. Weird … Overall, the event was awesome, and there are still two more days left. Check out DimeMag.com for all the videos, photos, recaps and interviews you could want … The WBF was even big enough to overshadow the Basketball Hall of Fame inductions. Among those honored: Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, Gus Johnson, Dennis Johnson, Cynthia Cooper, Bob Hurley Sr., the 1992 Dream Team and the 1960 Olympic team that featured Jerry West and Oscar Robertson … More than anybody, Pippen’s video montage reminded us how effing NASTY the dude was. Don’t get it twisted: Pippen could have been a star on his own. Matter of fact, he WAS a star on his own that first year Jordan retired. It’s crazy how people today act like any ol’ second option is playing the “Pippen” role. Sorry, but cats like Mo Williams and LaMarcus Aldridge are nowhere near Scottie’s level … During The Mailman’s montage, they showed the moment when he passed Wilt on the all-time scoring list. All night everybody had been talking about how huge Malone was and how he had a football player’s body (Malone was busting out of his Hall of Fame suit like Incredible Hulk), and then during the video you see Kevin Willis of the Raptors congratulate Malone after his historic bucket — and Willis completely dwarfs Malone. If there was a Basketball HOF for being jacked, Willis would be the first guy in … Magic was the de facto spokesman for the Dream Team, and talked up everybody on the roster. (At least we think so. Did we miss the part where Magic had a good word about Christian Laettner?) Great moment to see all those guys up there who represent the era during which a lot of us fell in love with basketball. But that’s why it also felt like Isiah Thomas and Dominique Wilkins should have been there … We’re out like Mo Gotti-as-Pippen …
Smack / Aug 14, 2010 / 12:01 am
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