The third annual Nike three-on-three basketball tournament jump started the first weekend of August in downtown Los Angeles with close to 25,000 spectators coming out to watch the action.
Packed with live music performances, endorsement sponsored game booths, dunk contests and intense games, this event was perfect for any basketball fanatic. Parking lots at the intersection of Figueroa and 11th Avenue underwent an extreme makeover: Hoops Edition, as both venues were reconstructed into about 100 half-basketball courts.
More than 4,000 players composing more than 1,000 teams competed in various divisions including elementary, junior high, high school, adult, professional elite and a handicap division for players in wheelchairs.
"Sometimes we lose sight of how much fun basketball is because everyone is trying to get to the next level, but this [tournament] is the pure essence of having some fun and playing basketball," said Jamal Adams, head basketball coach at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.
Many celebrities were in attendance amongst the 25,000. Darryl "DMC" McDaniels from the old school rap group Run DMC performed and judged the elite dunk contest, alongside Joe Bryant, head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks and father of LA Lakers basketball all-star Kobe Bryant. Another big name walking the streets of LA Live was Lisa Leslie.
Sponsored by Nike Basketball for more than 15 years, Leslie often attends Nike events, but it was her first time at the three-on-three tournament.
"I love the fact that you see everyone of all ages playing basketball and staying fit," said Leslie, "…and of course it's my favorite sport, I love to watch it, and always want to get out there and play."
Although Leslie did not end up lacing up her sneakers and playing in the tournament, she did say that she "wouldn't mind getting out there and blocking a couple of shots."
Along with Leslie, DMC and Joe Bryant, another breed of superstar celebrities were at the tourney and they came ready to play.
Team Amp 1, founded by Scott Odom, is the only stand-up amputee team in the nation. They competed in multiple games against able-bodied opponents throughout the weekend, winning the majority of their games.
They also played against each other as one of the main events in an atmosphere that many of them called "basketball heaven."
All players sport state-of-the-art prosthetic legs, in place of respective legs they lost during birth or an accident. One thing they haven't lost? Their love for basketball and hope to play.
"If people see what we are doing, how we overcame our adversity, playing on one leg, then hopefully that can inspire them to do whatever they want to do in their life," Odom said.
The idea for a team of stand-up amputee basketball players started with Odom choosing not to play wheelchair basketball. Looking for other players like himself, he posted a video on YouTube of him playing basketball in his backyard and started to receive national attention. Two years later, he is the founder of Team Amp 1 that tours their talents and passion to cities across the country.
"Never give up on your dreams, when one door closes another door opens, you have to have heart and be strong, we are testimonies to that," said RJ Dozier, who plays guard for Team Amp 1.
They recently played at the halftime of a Dallas Mavericks game and will be playing in charity benefit events in Michigan and Maryland in the upcoming months.