With almost 360° window light pouring in from the glass façade of the warehouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and its own private esplanade that offered views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building amidst New York City's magical skyline, Nike built a royal palace of basketball. What excited me most about it was that it seemed like they had photographers in mind when they put the plan together.
The Tournament of Champions features all-star teams from summer basketball leagues in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington D.C., and, of course, the mecca of basketball, New York City. The teams competed in a round robin series of games that were held at the world famous West 4th Street court, Gershwin Park in Brooklyn (home of the burgeoning East New York Summer Classic), and at Dyckman Park in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.
The week culminated in a playoff that pitted these teams – presumably the best in the nation, not including NBA players – against one another for a challenge to declare the best of the best. This part of the competition was held at the Brooklyn Navy Yards at this venue that I only hope my words and images can capture.
The venue featured an upper level containing an exclusive VIP lounge complete with appetizers and libations of all kinds. The media area, where I kept my laptop and fully loaded backpack, was adjacent to this open loft that looked down at the court and through the back wall, through which the Brooklyn Bridge peeked in and around the hanging American flag.
Shuttle buses delivered fans and streetball aficionados in droves from the Atlantic Avenue train station, home of the 1-year-old Barclays Center where the Brooklyn Nets play their home games, directly to the venue. A Nike yacht – yes, yacht – delivered other guests to the venue by way of the East River and parked at the dock right outside the warehouse.
Spectacular photographs of the various Nike-sponsored tournaments across the country were emblazoned along the walls of the main entrance. I was thrilled to see some of mine hanging among the work of terrific photographers, also from near and far.
Nike rolled out the red carpet for this event and I was fortunate to have been invited as one of the official photographers to capture all of the action on and off of the gorgeous hardwood floor.
I experimented with a 16mm wide angle lens as well as two of my favorites in the 24-70mm and the 70-200mm. I had an absolute blast shooting the event and witnessing some incredible basketball.
I saw Kevin Durant and James Harden coach against one another in the Summer is Serious game (they looked eager to actually play, but did resist any temptation). I also witnessed a women's championship game, a high school Tournament of Champions that saw the NYC team emerge as the champs, and the official TOC, which Chicago ultimately won after Washington D.C. stunned Team New York behind a magnificent performance by Corey "The DC Sniper" Allmond. All in all, it was a great experience and I look forward to doing it again next year.
I hope you enjoy some of my images from the TOC throughout this post. Feel free to drop a comment below.