Legends have been made at New York City's IS 8 boys high school basketball tournament, in spite of their tagline: Bring your game, not your name. The historic tournament, played at Richard Grossley junior high school in Queens, is practically a right of passage for the mecca of basketball's burgeoning young talent.
This year I was privileged to capture the tournament's grand finale and grand it was indeed.
The event—a game of this magnitude and at this level in NYC is often more than just a game—started with a training session on the rooftop of Niketown on 57th Street with world renowned trainer Idan Ravin. Both teams were invited for an intense workout normally reserved for only the world's top athletes.
After their workout, the players were greeted by the world's #1 motivational speaker, Eric Thomas. Thomas proceeded to deliver a memorable and passionate speech about setting and achieving goals. If you have never heard of Eric Thomas or have not heard any of his speeches, I recommend a search. My takeaways from hearing him speak were:
1. You have to want to achieve your goals as bad as you want to breathe.
2. Do it NOW—No Opportunity Wasted.
Especially as a basketball aficionado, I left the event incredibly inspired. Observing world-class training and hearing Thomas deliver one of his messages to the players are experiences that I will not soon forget.
And then there was the championship game the next afternoon. With fewer than 24 hours to rest from their workout with Idan, the teams took the floor to compete for the greatest bragging rights outside of school competition on the NYC basketball circuit.
Greeted by a lavishly decorated court with a standing-room-only crowd, new uniforms, and footwear, the stage was set appropriately. As a fly on the wall, I was able to follow the teams into the locker room where they immediately pulled out their smartphones to document their labeled lockers stuffed with new gear. When the game was over both teams received codes to special Nike trunks stuffed with packages for each player including customized sweatsuits with the IS 8 insignia emblazoned on the front.
The game was full of highlights, which comes as no surprise. Some of NYC's brightest future stars were featured and they competed at a high level throughout.
I hope my images can provide you with a glimpse of the atmosphere and the ensuing action on the court. Enjoy!