Baseball has had stickball since forever. Football has Thanksgiving backyard games. But never have we seen a sport undergo such a populist reinvention with an eye toward artistic expression than when basketball gave birth to streetball. It started off the streets with the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1920’s, of course, but by the turn of the century, streetball had followed in the mold of many art forms of the coming generations. Like grunge music, pop art or gonzo journalism, the veneer had been stripped, the niceties done away with, the Stepford Husband smiles faded to give way to the hard-edged attitude of the streets that saw these games played 24/7. And when the game turned, AND1 was there to capture it, with the grassroots phenomenon known as the AND1 Mixtape.
When you think of a mixtape, your mind probably goes straight to hip-hop. You think of aspiring young emcees scraping out a living selling tapes out of the trunks of their cars. Sure, they dream of stardom – don’t we all? – But they aren’t out there grinding every day unless they truly love their game. The passion they had for their art was the same passion ballers had been bringing to the playgrounds for years – not just to be the best, but to be the newest, and the most innovative, giving birth to the sickest moves that no one in either game had even thought of yet. They were out there expressing their art, and with the mixtapes, AND1 brought that art to the people in a way that was bigger than even the basketball artists themselves could’ve ever imagined. Streetball and mixtapes were made for each other, and ten volumes later, streetball had irrevocably changed the game, and AND1 is proud to play its part.