Guest post from Angel Diaz
Back in June, Red Bull and Dime Magazine invited me to Round 1 of the Red Bull Midnight Run where 100 players battled for 35 spots. Last Saturday I was invited back to the Brooklyn Nets practice facility in East Rutherford, NJ for Round 2. The 35 ballers that made it out of the first round now fought for eight spots and the chance to rep NYC in the third and final round to be played at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. There, the team from NY will face teams out of Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC. The four teams of eight will play a single game elimination format similar to the Final Four. Boston already has their eight ready to go, while New York, Chicago and DC are still in the Round 2 phase.
The scene was pretty much the same as the first round, but with a more controlled environment. Seven teams of five were matched up and had to stay together the whole night, win or lose. Two 7-minute games were played simultaneously with the winners staying on in true streetball fashion. The four teams left standing with the best records moved onto the semifinals. From the door Ronald Artis aka “Tiny Incredible Hulk” out of Newark, NJ stole the show. Dude is only 5’8”, but he weighs in at 200 pounds of solid muscle. He’s lightning quick and is built like a tank. Artis used his broad shoulders to get into the lane whenever he saw fit and his jumper was on all night. Ronald’s team dominated most of the evening, and carried a perfect record into the final game.
Some other guys stood out as well. Brad Forestieri out of Paterson, NJ—who was also on Tiny Hulk’s team—could not be stopped inside. He used every bit of his 6’5”, 240 frame to punish cats on the lower block. Brad works for the Passaic County Sherrif’s office and when he’s not fighting crime, he’s the head basketball coach at Felician College in Jersey. Donald Hennie repping Inglewood, NJ was knocking Js down all night, it didn’t matter from where. His team went undefeated until they lost in the semifinals to a squad with fresh legs. One of his teammates,Adrian Woodard out of Newark, NJ, also did the damn thing. The 6’7” forward was scoring at will it seemed. He had this one spot on the right wing that he couldn’t miss from even if he tried. Adrian also tried to dunk on a couple cats, but he clanked them. I’m pretty sure the four guys mentioned will be moving on.
There were some NYC cats going in as well. Haron Hargrave aka “H20” out of Queens, NY, a regular on the NYC street scene, reminded everyone of his nickname. He was dicing threes from never never land, but it wasn’t enough as his team failed to make it far. Ira Miller, also out of Queens, repped NY to the fullest. His team snuck up on everybody and won the final game. The 6’4” forward has an all-around game that was polished playing alongside the likes of Lamar Odom and Speedy Claxton as a youngster at Christ the King High School.
All in all the night was pretty dope. It was nonstop action from 6pm-10pm and I got a chance to see guys playing for a rep as opposed to a check. Many of these players have jobs and families, so it was refreshing to see their determination and infinite love of the game. I’m excited for the last round at the Barclays Center. I can’t wait to see four major US cities playing for streetball supremacy in a brand spanking new arena.