Every Court Counts
Camilla, Tommee and Fabrizio
The pandemic has changed the way we interact with the game some more than others. For those that aren’t lucky enough to have a court to get their shots up regularly and are forced some create solutions to fulfil the love of the game. As basketball is more than a sport, has the power to positively change communities. Now more than ever the community is supporting one another finding outlets to keep the culture alive. Fabrizio, Tommee, and Camilla are all ballers in Milan that have had to find interesting ways to Raise the Game in their community and stay connected to the game they love.
Camilla’s life had been totally flipped upside down in the last year. In 2019, she would wake up early spreading the love for basketball with school promotional project. She would interact with 200 or so students every year giving introducing them to the game and the basic principles. Then in the afternoon coach mini basketball for those under the age of 12 and in the evening going to her own practice to work on her own game. This routine has been forever changed; she now stays connected digitally with your students. “They need to see and energetic face not to lose their passion.”
Tommee felt in love with basketball four years ago after a Miami trip with his father, where he received Miami Heat merch. He has been crushed this last year, as a teenager not being able to play basketball (the game he loves) and staying connected with his friends in real life. He continues to hone his basketball skills at home by doing workouts online in his home, watching NBA games and rewatching The Last Dance. His is missing the game and his friends but is trying to stay connect with both via NBA2K, he cannot wait to get back out on the court. But is happy to have different opportunities to learn about the history of the game.
Fabrizio’s life is basketball as a basketball journalist and content creator he is always around the game. He used to be courtside doing side-line reporting for different platforms, now having to get his information from watching and reporting remotely. The change has only been amplified now that the weather does not allow him to get out of his studio to local parks and get shots up. He keeps his fire for them game doing home workouts, reading books from legends, and watching games. He looks forward to the time where he can interact with his idols again.
We all are still making adjustments to keep the fire and passion alive and look forward to that day when pick-up games become another normal piece of life. Until then, we all will keep support one another wherever we can.
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“I think about basketball all the time; I live basketball all the time, I consume basketball all the time.”
With the widespread proliferation of social media, the connection between fans and the game has never been greater and it has allowed any individual - like Eddie David - to create their own blueprint to Raise the Game. Independent content creators like Eddie are giving their own takes on basketball, and being given instant access to a fanbase that is craving authentic, fan-focused analysis of the game.
During the pandemic, the increased desire for connection around the game saw many more audiences grow around different independent creators. For someone like Eddie, who is basketball-obsessed, digital platforms give him an outlet to share his passion with other like-minded fans. “In everyday life my relationship with basketball is all-consuming,” Eddie explained. “I think about basketball all the time, I live basketball all the time, I consume basketball all the time. At the end of the day, my relationship with basketball as a fan can be overbearing for some!”
Every Court Counts.
And though the platforms he was on didn’t change due to COVID-19, he was forced to come up with innovative new ideas to keep his community engaged. “I already used basic social networks,” he said. “However, I did have new concepts, yes. I started a podcast; I started a live Twitch show where we talk about the NBA etc. The work the NBA did for the bubble was huge and so I tried to draw inspiration from that.”
Whether it’s reaction videos, sharing knowledge about different NBA players like recently drafted French prospect Killian Hayes or paying tribute to Kobe following his tragic passing at the beginning of 2020, Eddie stays on top of trending topics his audience want to hear from him on. “I'm someone who talks a lot,” he admits. “So, I pass it on by talking about it or I pass it on by reacting to it. As soon as there is an action or a rumor, I will instantly speak about it and react to it.”
And with more fans now having a voice, and in many cases a direct route to players, Eddie hopes that connection between players and fans will continue to strengthen. “I would like to see more interaction between players and fans,” he concluded. “There is a lot of interaction between players and the media but we want to have this interaction between players and fans because it is the fans who bring fame and wealth to the players.”
This interaction is only going to increase as more fans take Eddie’s lead and create their own channels to cover the game, opening it up to new audiences and continuing to grow the sport globally.
Every Game Counts.
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“I'd like to see more women’s representation in the game.”
One thing that is undeniable about basketball is its ability to sit at the intersection of fashion, lifestyle and culture, and Marie Cooles is one of those who helps connect it all.
Marie moved to Paris from Angers in 2019 to study her master’s degree in digital marketing, which she is putting to good use on her YouTube channel that is fast approaching 200,000 subscribers.
Fashion has been at the center of everything she does, having picked up on a trend that has continued to grow across the basketball world in recent years, with accounts such as SLAM’s leaguefits profiling players’ off-court wear, and high profile brands such as Louis Vuitton forming official partnerships with the NBA and Dior linking with Jordan Brand. It has opened up basketball to a whole new audience, where the look has become as big as the game.
The digital content creator who publishes on YouTube under the name ‘Mariecooles’ shares lookbooks, hauls, hairstyles, Q&As and playlists, with a basketball element that is ever-more present on her Instagram. “Basketball is a sport that allows me to go beyond my limits and surpass myself,” she said. “It's a team sport either we win together, or we lose together.”
Through lockdown, along with playing more NBA 2K, Cooles witnessed the trend toward more comfortable clothing with people spending more time indoors, but the baggy style was something she was already familiar with from her basketball fits. “A lot of people started dressing in a more comfortable way,” she observed. “But for me it was the same because I wear wide cut clothes for basketball - that's what I wear on a daily basis. There was no big change. “I love everything about basketball. As a result, I try to incorporate basketball into my style. “On my Instagram account, I try to link basketball with urban style. People really like it.”
In a historically male dominated space, Marie’s content creation helps to Raise the Game for female representation across basketball fashion and culture. Her links with basketball run deep through the family, with her father and both brothers playing and their infectious passion for it having led to her first picking up a ball. Growing up, there would be regular family trips to watch local Pro A side Cholet, where Marie’s passion for the game grew.
Paris has always been the epicenter of setting the trends in basketball, fashion and culture in France, and Marie would like to help be a part of a movement to spread it across other parts of the country, like where she was raised. “The basketball culture is very focused on Paris,” the 22 year old explained. “I come from the countryside and I would like to see the basketball culture develop in other parts of France, not just in Paris. In addition, women's fashion around basketball; it has to develop too. I'd like to see more women’s representation in the game. “
Every Style Counts.
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“During the lockdown, I got up at six in the morning to go train and not be bothered by the authorities.”
There have been concerns that an entire generation of players will miss out on a year of their development, but when they have the same work ethic and determination as Elias, it is obvious they are still going to Raise the Game.
Lockdowns saw courts being closed, and in some extreme cases hoops removed or covered to prevent players from working on their game. It means hoopers like Elias have had to be creative to ensure they stay in shape and their skill development doesn’t drop off.
Elias Video Though his own professional basketball aspirations were side-tracked by an injury where he was told he might never be able to walk again, it has not stopped him playing and training as much as he can. “During the lockdown, I got up at six in the morning to go train and not be bothered by the authorities,” Elias revealed. “After training, I went back home around eight o'clock and continued my sleep. I did that every day.”
For some players, staying on top of their game has meant breaking into courts when no one is around, for those with the space, it has meant ordering a hoop for their back garden, and for those without even that privilege, it has been working on their ball handling in the house, and connecting with coaches and teammates via Zoom.
Every Court Counts.
Elias is all too aware of the culture around basketball that goes way beyond what happens within the four lines. He works for Overtime France, one of the largest basketball-focused online social media communities, that profiles younger players in particular, helping to grow the culture. “Around the NBA, there is a whole culture,” Elias explains. “But don't be so narrow minded it is just about the ball and the basket. Basketball goes beyond the NBA. It is a huge culture that deserves to be lived in full.” And as he sees it, part of his duty is to grow that culture by sharing his knowledge with the next generation.
He has stayed connected to the grassroots throughout lockdown, primarily via his Instagram, where he engages with his followers and shares clips, having had time to watch games from archive footage during the pandemic. “I try to pass on my knowledge to young people like me,” the Parisian enthused. “Not only on the ground, but you also have to tell them that there is something more than the field. Tell them that you can help someone develop and educate themselves through sport. Sport is not just about competition. It is also about hope, solidarity and sharing.”
As part of that, Elias wants to see basketball culture have more of a spread across the entirety of France instead of being so Parisfocused. “I'd like to see a lot more events all over France not only in Paris. I'm lucky enough to be in Paris but I have friends who are a little far from the capital and they get a little bored of the lack of events.” When the pandemic passes, Elias has only one goal: “I wish to be everywhere,” he concluded. “To be present at every single event. It's not to say look at me but just to accumulate as much exposure and experience as possible to pass on to others at the end.” With the likes of Elias on the ground, the game is in good hands.
Every Basket Counts.
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“I think my role as a professional basketball player is beyond sport.”
Ignore the full ride to Maryland, the 3 European silver medals from her 67 caps with the French national team, or the domestic and European club titles, it is off the court where Diandra Tchatchouang is really helping to Raise the Game. The 29 year old Bourges forward is more than an athlete. She juggles her playing career with studying, where her focus is political science and journalism, and has been a leading light of social activism and giving back to her community ever since she has had a platform. “Giving to my community will never be enough because it is this community that has invested in me since I was a little girl,” Tchatchouang espoused.
“I try to help the most disadvantaged through sharing, especially young girls.” The need for greater female representation and participation across the game is paramount, and though strides are being made such as Becky Hammon’s coaching role with the San Antonio Spurs, more young women need to believe it is within touching distance.
The Nike Take Your Shot program helped do exactly that, inspiring young females to pursue their dreams as Tchathouang and other successful women from different sports and backgrounds spent time mentoring the next generation.
On the athletes’ committee for the Paris 2024 Olympic games where her focus is improving the athlete experience in the Olympic village while also training young people to learn a foreign language to enable them to work during the Games, she also has her own podcast, Super Humains, to share athletes’ journeys who have overcome difficulties in their lives.
During 2020, she took it upon herself to help advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement and combat racial injustices worldwide. Whether it’s her studies, her female youth empowerment programs, podcasts, or activism, Diandra makes sure that Every Court Counts. “I have a platform and it is important to stand up for those who do not have the same platform,” Tchatchouang said, echoing the stance of basketball players around the globe.
“It's more than basketball. It is important to talk about social issues and to show that we are not in a box and unaware of what’s going on around us. “I'd like to see more solidarity. It is a team sport above all. This sense of sharing, of helping others, of being there for everyone. For me, that's what makes the difference: solidarity and team spirit.”
And with the pandemic not just being a health crisis, but an economic and social crisis, the global hoops community needs people like Tchatchouang to keep on making a stand, and always be improving their standards. “For me, to raise the bar is to give one’s maximum regardless of the circumstances either on the court or off it,” she declared.
“Our role as basketball players goes beyond the court. You have to raise the bar everywhere; from on the court to in the hood.” Historically, basketball has been, and continues to be, at the forefront of the impact sport can have beyond the sidelines and with the likes of Diandra Tchatchouang involved, that will only continue.
Every Community counts.
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“Basketball is a sport that makes me feel emotions I don’t feel with other sports.”
Brawks has been part of a group spearheading a surge in NBA 2K streaming throughout the global pandemic to Raise the Game, as people have stayed home and sought out a hoops connection in other ways. He sees his role to elevate and expand the influence of French basketball culture to his online audience which currently stands at close to half a million. “Basketball is an exceptional sport, and inspires me to be better every day,” Brawks enthuses. “So I try to do my best to make people discover the basketball universe both inside the game and outside through my lifestyle.”
It is not just game streams, but Brawks shares photos of his latest fits, and him playing on Instagram. And despite his sizable audience, Brawks does not do it for the fame or the money, it’s about the passion for the game. Inspired by the work ethic and durability of LeBron James, who he has been a hardcore fan of since childhood, Brawks takes his hustle to Twitch, transmitting his love for basketball to other 2Kers who were barred from outdoor courts and needed to find other ways to up their game.
He is proving Every Court Counts.
“For us streamers, it (the lockdown) was quite beneficial since a lot of people were stuck at home,” BrokyBrawks - who is also an ambassador for Team Vitality, one of the leading esports teams in France - said. “A lot of people didn't know what to do so they discovered Twitch. This brought a large community to us.”
Large is an understatement, as the online streaming community continues to grow exponentially and provide a viable outlet for millions who have been forced to stay in. “I played a lot of basketball with my friends in the gym. Now gyms were closed, and we had to stop playing. I'm lucky to have video games; NBA 2K that saved my life!”
The NBA - one of the most forward thinking organizations on the planet - was the first professional sports league to shut down globally in response to COVID-19 in March, before returning with the ‘bubble’ to complete the season, not to mention the launch of NBA 2K21 towards the end of the year; a welcome boost for Brawks and his friends.
“The return of the NBA during the holidays was a good thing. The resumption of the NBA was too good to be true for us. I just kept playing my video games and watching old games on YouTube. It was a bit hard, but you have to do what you have to do.”
The results of Brawks’ efforts and the rest of the gaming community saw Twitch, the most popular video game streaming platform, have 1.49 billion gaming hours watched in April — a 50% increase since March.
BrokyBrawks aims to grow and share his love for hoops with others and encourage their inclusion in the basketball community, irrespective of whether it’s online or off.
Every Play counts.
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Every Court Counts
Whether your court is the street corner, community, console, a canvas, or clothes - no matter what it is - your efforts to Raise The Game count.
The past 12 months have seen the basketball world come together and connect in ways never witnessed before, as people sought a new form of connection after the global pandemic ripped away the option for the normal congregation around the game we all love.
The new normal kicked in.
Team Zoom workouts in your lounge or back garden have become commonplace, online streaming and consumption of games like NBA 2K has grown exponentially, court fits became comfort wear, creative projects people have been putting off for years came to life, whilst closed door basketball games have brought fans together virtually and been used to put the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustices center stage worldwide.
Basketball has been a force for good in ways other sports are just unable to equal.
The basketball community embraces everybody who has been touched by the game, and what follows are 5 people all making their own waves, for the culture.
Every Court Counts.