Season 2 of Red Bull Midnight Run kicked into high gear, as the ultimate bragging rights competition made its way to New Orleans on Friday, August 2.
Honestly, the Big Easy is not one of the first places that comes to mind when you think about basketball talent. There’s no legendary history attached to the city – it wasn’t home to an NBA team until 2002. Frankly, New Orleans is a city that has always had a strong association with football, especially after the Saints took home the Super Bowl title shortly after Katrina. However, according to a few standout players at the Red Bull Midnight Run this weekend, basketball is making a bigger impact on the city now more than ever.
“Things are changing in New Orleans,” said Brent LeDuff, who played four years of college ball at Southern University of New Orleans. “Basketball used to be an afterthought, now we take it more seriously.”
A lot of talented people had to leave for other cities because of the Hurricane, but now that it’s been several years, there is a whole new crop of talented young players.
LeDuff, a 5-10 guard who earned the nickname “Floor General,” says the game is played differently in New Orleans: “We’ve got a whole different style down here. We play fast because the game comes easy to us that way. It’s real simple, put the ball in the hole. That’s how we play.”
During the Red Bull Midnight Run, it was clear that LeDuff hit the nail on the head. If there’s one thing these New Orleans cats know how to do, it’s put the ball in the basket. Every player shares that same mentality because everybody thinks they’re better than the next guy.
“Guys down here don’t complain about shots,” LeDuff said. “We can play the way we play because we all lock up on defense. If you take a bad shot, it’s on you to get it back.”
Lionel Green, an overseas professional from the Nola area, claims New Orleans players are wired differently: “We have an edge to our game that other cities just don’t have. It’s not something that you can teach. It has to be in you.”
After you factor in everything the city has been through as a result of the storm, you have to believe there’s truth in that statement.
“If you’re from New Orleans, that means you take pride in being the underdog,” Green continued. “That natural level of hunger translates to the basketball court and that’s what makes us different from other cities.”
After watching these guys get up and down, it doesn’t take long to realize that they play the game with a certain flare that you don’t see everyday. They love to get up and down for fast-break dunks, and they love to drain deep threes in your face.
New Orleans is a city that may fly under the radar when the Finals at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn comes around this fall, but they certainly don’t mind being the underdogs.
“We always feel like we have something to prove,” said Green. “So in any situation, we’re determined to come out on top.”
What city produces the best basketball talent?
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