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If you’re a hooper (a great basketball player) then you’re familiar with And 1 streetball and its significant impact on street basketball and even the NBA to a certain extent i.e “Skip to my Lou” (Rafer Alston). The And 1 brand compared to its major competitor Nike didn’t have the manpower when it started, but the founders had a shared mission to introduce streetball to the mainstream and it became a prominent basketball brand that was on the level of Nike. In this blog post, I will summarize and review the latest documentary I watched Untold: The Rise and Fall of And 1.
The And 1 brand began in August 1993 by three college students Seth Berger, Jay Coen Gilbert, and Tom Austin. These three basketball enthusiasts wanted to create a brand that exemplified their love for the game but catered to the streets. Furthermore, the brand wanted to have a demeanor that reflected the toughness of streetball. Before And 1 came out with sneakers, they tested the market and designed T-shirts that resonated with streetballers. Arrogant disses on t-shirts like, “Go to church. Pray you don’t guard me”, and “What’s wrong? “Momma forgot to pack your game”? This captivated consumers and the brand built momentum. Moreover, And 1 was cultivated with a grassroots movement mindset where the mission was to remain loyal to the streets and thus street ball became synonymous with AND 1. In addition, it was a way of life for a lot in the hood. And 1 reached its pinnacle when it started its And 1 Mixtape Tour which consisted of games being played nationwide and globally. Additionally, players would make media appearances to increase exposure for the brand. The testimonials from And 1 players were intriguing to learn about, such as winning was secondary because the performance was everything. From that standpoint, I perceived that sentiment to be comparable to the ostentatious Harlem Globetrotters or the extreme airborne version of basketball, Slamball. The latter was an exaggerated version of basketball that appealed to a casual fan that didn’t know much of the fundamentals, but And 1 streetball was an on-the-ground game that incorporated the culture of Hip Hop and gravitated to the streets. In regard to this, Rucker Park is considered to be the Madison Square Garden to Streetballers and the crowd there and many venues during there And 1 mixtape tour was their music, the court their canvas, their playstyle their ink, and the artist was the type of player they were every game. Even with the instant success And 1 enjoyed, its downfall was unfortunate because it could have been prevented. After the mixtape tour, consumer interests began to decline and players became aggravated because they weren’t being compensated fairly. For example, one of the players “The Dribbling Machine” expressed the discontent that the And 1 roster had with the company’s founders as “Poverty Pimpin’. His indignant disposition regarding how the players were treated in terms of financially is understandable and valid. They were the golden geese that would continuously lay their efforts on the blacktop only for the founders to exploit them. One of the founders of And 1 regretfully expressed that they should have looked at the players more like employees as opposed to brand endorsers. And 1 could have given them stock options and the profits could have been divided up fairly and evenly amongst the players. This poor display of business management was one of many reasons for the demise of the original And 1 brand’s success. As of today, the company is still active but under a new parent company.
All things considered, And 1’s repute was strong in the early 2000s and that gave them the confidence to take on a juggernaut brand like Nike, but they lost momentum after the mixtape tour and it was unfortunate because And 1 is still a brand that is respected but not to the extent when it was in its prime. I would have liked to see more insight on the mixtape tour, how And 1 helped contribute to the popularity of mixtapes in the early 2000s, and the process it took to revive the brand under new management. All in all, it was a satisfying documentary. If you’re a basketball fan and remember the phenomenon of And 1 then definitely check this out.