12ozProphet was among a very select group invited to Los Angeles by Nike this past weekend. All the details were kept top secret with no information volunteered other than a flight itinerary and the trip referred to as an “experience.” Upon arriving at LAX I was greeted by a man in a black suit holding an iPad bearing an image of a Nike swoosh and a plus in electric blue.
Along with one other participant who caught the same flight, we were escorted to an awaiting Cadillac Escalade to whisk us on our way. Our driver was cordial, telling stories and pointing out sites along the way before arriving at our destination, the London Hotel. Waiting in the room was a little black box with a Nike+ logo in silver foil. Inside was a polished silver coin with a Nike+ on the face and on the back the phrase “Game On, World.”
The next day began with a lunch hosted by Nike on the roof of the London Hotel. It was the first opportunity to see who else was along for the ride. The crowd of about 50 dined in the sun with a slight breeze and a picturesque view of Los Angeles. Those in attendance included locals like Eddie Cruz, the founder of the most reputable sneaker store in town, Undefeated, rubbing shoulders with others making the trip from as far away as London, Berlin, and even Beijing.
Following lunch, we all met in the lobby of the hotel where we were broken up into 8 different teams. We hopped in the Escalade, as a team, uncertain of our destination. LA transplant, Aaron Bondaroff, formerly of Supreme, A New York Thing, and OHWOW Gallery, rode shotgun narrating our journey. Surveying the inventory in the ride, A-ron was rocking a pair of Supreme Nike SB 94’s whereas Carri Munden, the fashion designer behind Cassette Playa had on a pair of Galaxy Foamposite’s with the tag still on reading “remove before flight,” sneakers notorious for inciting riots at their release. I had on my Hold Tight Air Max 1’s in mint condition from 2007. No doubt the kicks in our car alone could rival any of the best shelves in Flight Club.
We arrived at our first stop, the Nike Vault in Downtown Los Angeles, a conceptual storefront for Nike Basketball located in the shadow of the Staples Center. The entire store was designed around the new Nike+ Hyperdunk 2012, set to go on sale this Friday June 29th. A powerpoint presentation, punctuated with video clips of Lebron James, touted the new technology, how it fit into the canonical history of the Nike brand, and their vision for the future of sport training and performance.
Nike has an extremely rich history as the most innovative performance-based brand in sports. This philosophy dates back to Bill Bowerman’s vision. However, Nike+ technology was first incorporated into Nike Running products in 2006, tracking distances ran and calories burned. This year Nike released the Nike+ FuelBand, a wrist-based device designed to track everyday activity. The new Nike+ Basketball technology pushes these analytics even further, measuring how high, how hard and how quick players play the game via the ‘Track My Game’ mode.
The Nike+ enabled basketball shoes track information on every movement during the game and deliver back information to the user, giving them a basis from which to improve. With these new sets of realtime data, training could become a game unto itself as friends and rivals compete to see who has the highest vertical jump or quickest moves.
It was also announced that these are the shoes that NBA Champion Lebron James would be wearing during the upcoming 2012 Olympic games in London making the “Game On, World” slogan particularly appropriate.
Following the presentation the screen lifted up to reveal a backstage area with a Matrix-like display of the Hyperdunk 2012+ and glass showcases with sketches of the designs. Attendees ogled the new unreleased shoes in both black and silver color-ways.
The entire store was set as a stage with the Hyperdunk 2012+ the star for the day. All of the in-store visuals and merchandise complimented the new kicks.
At the Nike Vault store customers could create custom one of a kind T-shirts, picking from a selection of available graphics, color ways, numbers and text. We were each able to create our own as part of the experience, some choosing to keep theirs clean and simple while others pulled out all the bells and whistles.
Inspired to step their game up, some of the guests shot around on the basketball hoop in the front of the Nike Vault store.
After the presentation at the Nike Vault we were all escorted across the street to the LA LIVE Plaza at the Staples Center where festivities were underway in celebration of the new Nike+ Hyperdunk 2012, the climax being a dunk contest. We were lucky enough to have front row seats to witness the ballers putting their new kicks to work with high flying acrobatics that rivaled any NBA All-Star Weekend.
Rapper Schoolboy Q opened the show performing his hit single Hands on the Wheel before taking a seat as one of the guest judges of the dunk contest.
Former baller and host of Inside the NBA on TNT, Kenny Smith, was the master of ceremonies for the event. The Jet introduced singer songwriter Keri Hilson who joined the panel of guest judges.
The dunk contest included five contestants, Airdogg, Jonsey, Reemix, Young Hollywood, and Jus Fly. None being familiar faces or household names, the crowd had no idea of the incredible show that was in store.
The five competitors took turns effortlessly nailing dunks that in previous years would have taken home an NBA Dunk Contest Champion title. Each went way above the rim going through the legs and soaring over the heads of their peers on each dunk. These dudes were no joke!
However, there was one dunk that stood out head and shoulders above the rest. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, on Jus Fly’s first attempt he started off with the ball on the ground in the paint half-way between the foul line and the hoop. Kenny Smith joked “You’ve gotta have a ball in order to dunk!?” No one could have seen what was coming next.
The lanky ball player approached the paint, leaping into a forward handspring, picking up the ball mid-motion while inverted and bouncing up into a through the legs slam dunk. It was unbelievable! The crowd erupted in raucous appreciation for the moment we just witnessed drawing straight 10’s from the judges.
Check out this video produced by Nike Basketball of Jus Fly’s mind blowing winning dunk that brought the house down and ended the competition in a first round knock out.
Below is a highlight reel produced by Dunkademics with many of the memorable moments from the dunk contest.
We immediately continued on our way as the dunk contest ended and the setting sun cast long shadows. We hopped back into our caravan of black Escalades onto the the next chapter in our day.
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Our caravan of black Escalades stretched more than twelve deep, staying in line as we cruised through the streets of Los Angeles. We must have appeared as foreign dignitaries, or mafia perhaps. As the sun creeped past the horizon and the California air cooled down to a brisk 65 degrees, we approached our next destination, the Montalbán Theater in the heart of Hollywood. The historic Montalbán was built in 1926 by Cecil B. DeMille. In 2008 Nike transformed the space into a unique shopping experience as the west coast home of Nike Sportswear. Since then the theater has been utilized by Nike for screenings and special events.
The entire interior had been decked out for the occasion of our arrival. The space was lit in black-light with big, bold, block-letters painted on the walls and rafters reading “Game On, World.” The teams took turns heading up to the balcony where gym bags with each of our names had a complete Nike dri-fit wardrobe for us to change into.
Three pairs of Hyperdunk 2012+ sneakers were on display in slick, glowing, futuristic cases. The aura of light illuminated the lobby, drawing in onlookers like moths to a flame. Anticipation built as each team returned in matching uniforms, anxious for the impending competition that the whole day has been leading up to.
Doors to the theater opened and SNL star, Seth Meyers took the stage as our host for the evening. Though we weren’t privy to a live Weekend Update, he continued to reiterate the talking points of the innovative qualities of the new Nike+ technology, peppering his presentation with jokes. Really.
We joined him on stage where professional athletes demonstrated the challenges that each of the teams were soon to be taking on head to head.
Utilizing the new Nike+ technology, each of our athletic abilities were soon to be charted based on our vertical jump, skills with a jump rope, and footstep quickness. As the competition began everyone yelled as loud they could cheering on their teammates. The brief challenges appeared easy but were deceivingly exhausting. I’m sure I wasn’t the only competitor who thought, goddamn, I’m really out of shape, while trying to catch my breath after taking my turn.
Filmmaker Casey Neistat and fashion designer Carri Munden lacing up their new kicks before competing head to head.
We were then lead up onto the rooftop of the theater where a wall of lights made for a dramatic backdrop against epic views of the city. The cold air didn’t feel so bad anymore after breaking a good sweat.
There was a basketball hoop set at 8-feet high where guests could channel inspiration from the dunk contest we attended earlier. Pro BMX rider Nigel Sylvester came closest, taking home the title of dunk champion amongst the ‘influencer’ crowd.
There was also a physical fitness training course on the roof, you know, in case you weren’t already exhausted by that time.
Hors d’oeuvres were passed and drinks flowed as our adventure neared its end.
Seth Meyers, Storm, Pia Arrobio and Casey Neistat sharing a laugh on the roof.
After all of the figures were calculated, Team 4 was victorious. It was the culmination of a long and exciting day. We’ll get you next time!
A big THANK YOU goes out to Nike for inviting 12ozProphet and making this fun-filled adventure possible!