Spark and Steven Adams team up to bring pick-up basketball to Auckland.
Auckland, New Zealand – 28 October 2014: Spark and Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams took to Twitter today to launch a pick-up basketball project for Aucklanders via a short film featuring NBA legend, Julius “Dr. J” Erving.
Adams and his long-time manager and mentor Kenny McFadden are teaming up with Spark to bring the culture of pick-up basketball from world-famous courts in the US to the suburbs of Auckland, with a project that will see five Auckland ‘boroughs’ kitted out with free hi-tech outdoor courts and paired with famous sister courts in the US.
This afternoon, just a day ahead of the tip off for the NBA league’s 2014-2015 season, Adams and McFadden joined Spark’s CE for Home, Mobile and Business, Chris Quin, via live stream from their home in OKC for a press conference at Spark’s headquarters in Auckland to launch The Boroughs.
Kenny McFadden is a legend in New Zealand’s basketball community, known for inspiring young kids to follow their dreams and for identifying and coaching basketball talent, including Steven Adams.
McFadden says: “This project will give a lot of people the opportunity to go out there and express themselves, and more importantly take pride in their community and courts, which is what streetball has done in the US. One of the biggest benefits for the younger age group is that they can learn from the older kids, and develop their talent at a young age. It’s a great concept.”
Chris Quin says: “Basketball’s profile and popularity is on the rise in New Zealand, but the inspiration and success of Steven in his rookie NBA season has really taken it to the next level. We’re really proud of Steven’s achievements and being able to work with him on this project to help more Kiwis follow their dreams on the court.
“The Boroughs project has been in development for over 18-months and involves great basketball names and brands, local community representatives, building the tricked out full-size outdoor courts and exciting technological developments. It’s seen us form the only NZ partnership with the NBA and bring together NBA legends like Dr. J with our very own Steven Adams to talk about how street basketball shapes the play and makes the stars of basketball.”
Steven Adams, who grew up with his brothers’ stories of Dr J. at Rucker Park, is backing The Boroughs because he says: “It’s about just giving Kiwi kids and people in the community a chance to go out there and play basketball to help grow the game.”
Each Boroughs site will have a basketball court, which will be built and maintained by Spark in partnership with the respective Auckland Council Local Board.
Steven Adams says: “Auckland needs decent, upgraded outdoor courts so people can get out on them and play for free. Not everyone can afford to get to the gym so like streetball in the States, these courts are for everyone.”
Each new court will be a Spark WiFi hotspot and, as part of the Boroughs project, Spark is developing new interactive technology for the courts, which will be unveiled early next year.
Chris Quin says the ‘gamification and co-creation’ will be key to letting both players and fans get involved.
“We’ve developed unique technology specifically for The Boroughs that we’ll be unveiling in the New Year – it’s a first for NZ and internationally.
Kenny McFadden is excited by the use of technology on the courts and can see it benefitting player development.
“Putting the tech on the courts, that’s cool. No doubt about it, it’s the first in the world that I’ve seen. For players to be able to go down and use all that technology for their own self-development is extremely powerful.
“No doubt The Boroughs will uplift young players and shine the light on new talent. There’s been big excitement over what the Breakers have done, and with Steven getting drafted to the NBA. Now with The Boroughs, basketball gets another shot in the arm so to speak, in terms of popularity. This project will give a lot of people the opportunity to go out there and express themselves and more importantly take pride in their community and courts.
“As a basketball talent scout and coach, I can see the younger age group really benefitting from The Boroughs. They can play with their own age group and the big boys, and learn from them and develop their talent at a young age. It’s a great concept,” said McFadden.
The Boroughs has been a major project for Spark, working closely with Auckland local boards and Auckland Council on the location for each court.
Spark Senior Brand and Content Marketing Manager, Arnna Conroy who has lead the Boroughs project says: “We’ve worked closely with Auckland Council and local boards on location and infrastructure so that all of Auckland can benefit.
“Basketball’s popularity in NZ is growing, but if you look at community access to the game compared to other sports – it’s been lacking. The Boroughs makes it easy because cost isn’t a factor; all you need is a ball and a hoop and the whole neighbourhood can join in.”
Auckland Council’s General Manager of Parks, Sport and Recreation, Ian Maxwell, says that local boards for each court location gave strong support to The Boroughs right from the start and could see the project ticked all the right boxes.
“The Boroughs meets the local board goal to provide open spaces that provide recreational opportunities for young people, thorough partnership it improves community recreational facilities and contributes to our goal of Auckland becoming the world’s most liveable city by encouraging local exercise and community activity.”
Kenny McFadden is in agreement: “Streetball tends to bring the community together. Sport as a whole is a vehicle for socialising and making new friends. But you know, when you’re putting a basketball court up and you have to play and learn the rules and get along, it brings the community that much more together.”
The Game + the Legends
Streetball was born in the 1950s at Harlem’s Rucker Park, where summer tournaments attracted the big names of basketball to create new plays and sink shots – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Earl Monroe, Kobe Bryant to name a few.
Many who have played at Rucker Park and the other famous outdoor courts in the US have achieved fame for their abilities, and several have gone on to play in the NBA, including Julius “Dr. J” Erving. Dr. J was a regular at Rucker Park in the 1950s and was well known for his signature move, the ‘slam dunk’.
Kenny McFadden says: “You only need to look at the list of NBA stars, like Dr. J who developed their skills at Rucker Park before becoming professional legends. The style and flair of play in that tournament with slam dunks and crossover dribbles wasn’t seen in the NBA at that time.”
By incorporating his ‘streetball’ moves into the NBA, Dr. J is credited with helping to launch modern basketball. “Street ball has developed the great guard play that you see in the NBA today. It all started with Rucker Park,” says Dr J.
Steven Adams remembers hearing of the legend of Dr. J from his brother and wanting to recreate the atmosphere at home: “My brother used to always tell me stories of Dr. J, the afro, the dunks, it was amazing. Your feet will be in Papatoetoe, and your head will be in Rucker Park.”
Just like the legendary streetball courts of the US, Spark expects each of The Boroughs courts to develop its own unique identity and legendary players, giving Kiwis the chance to dream big.
Here’s the details:
• Spark is partnering with Steven Adams to launch a pick-up basketball project in Auckland that will see Spark building five hi-tech streetball courts in collaboration with Local Boards and Auckland Council.
• Five Boroughs, five tricked out courts across Auckland – North, South, East, West & Central (a map of the five locations is available on request).
• Calling all Auckland basketball players and fans to represent their Borough on court and on-line
Sister Courts to the homes of Pick-up ball in the US
• Rucker Park, Harlem – Sister Court to Otamariki Park in South Auckland
• The Cage, Manhattan – Sister Court to Victoria Park in Central Auckland
• Downtown Courts, OKC – Sister Court to Avondale Central (TBC) in West Auckland
• The Hole, Brooklyn – Sister Court to Pt England Reserve in East Auckland
• Venice Beach, LA sister Court to Hooton Reserve in North Auckland
. More information on the Boroughs can be found at: