On Monday, The Observer braved the heat and schlepped down to the LES home of the City’s second-oldest Catholic high school, La Salle Academy. The alma mater of pro-baller Ron Artest was an all-too-appropriate venue for the filming of the third-annual Converse Band of Ballers 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament to air on MTV2 in mid-August.
Despite being a celebrity basketball tournament on paper, the event ran itself in a fashion similar to a dog fight with each team’s celebrity leaders sitting on the sidelines fanning themselves to keep cool while their streetballer pit-bulls fought it out gladiator-style in the 100+ degree gymnasium amidst a crowd of aggressive fans, and one overzealous commentator.
We found the Brooklyn-bred, indie rock group Matt & Kim in a classroom, away from the mêlée, notably chipper and dry after their first game.
“Have you seen his body? He’s a got a good body, and that’s how I judge basketball players.” Kim Schifino told The Observer with a giggle, when we asked her if her teammate (Community star and rapper) Donald Glover was as good at basketball as he is at everything else.
Ms. Schifino and her partner Matt Johnson came to Monday’s tournament ready to compete—as was evident when Matt approached us wearing what he told us were “custom extra-short shorts,” which were noticeably shorter than Kim’s shorts.
The indie-rock-famous duo catapulted to fame from humble Brooklyn-band beginnings—one of their albums is even named after Williamsburg’s Grand Avenue—and like Williamsburg, have grown out of simple hipster-fandom to mainstream recognition. On a similar note, The Observer recently spotted a Lamborghini in Williamsburg. When we told the pair about the incident and asked whether they were now “part of the problem,” Matt admitted that while they have yet to see the car in question, yes they are now part of the problem, as they recently drove down Bedford Avenue with the top down in a white Chrysler Sebring Convertible. He noted: “Kim was so embarrassed she got in the back of the car, laid down, and hid.”
Contrary to her absurdly-uniformed partner, Ms. Schifino was quite serious about the tournament, “I grew up following the Celtics. My mom even had a Larry Bird poster in the house” she told us, adding “Larry Bird was not an attractive guy, but I’m certain my mom would’ve fucked him.”
Ms. Schifino’s pro-baller attitude carried onto the court and it was quickly apparent that Team Brooklyn didn’t come to Band of Ballers to mess around. Despite having close to no basketball experience themselves, Matt and Kim do have some friends in the game. In addition to Mr. Johnson, Ms. Schifino, and Mr. Glover, Team Brooklyn consisted of Jack “Black Jack” Ryan, a Brooklyn native and streetball icon, Pat The Roc, the self-proclaimed “King of Streetball,” and Ryan “Special FX” Williams, who played in college at St. John’s University and is presently an actively touring professional streetballer.
As The Observer watched from the sidelines it became startlingly clear that the tournament itself seemed to be less a tournament between artists, and more a contest to see who was better connected to actual “ballers.” Outside of the misinformed Team Swell—rap group Chiddy Bang, who were thoroughly dominated by their competition—none of the other recording artists made it onto the hardwood to compete in Monday’s tournament.
Equally misinformed, Lil Twist—the seventeen-year-old artist sent to represent the notoriously-elusive Lil Wayne as the replacement captain of the Young Money Entertainment team—seemed slightly confused as to the nature of the event. The miniature rapper wore sunglasses, a large diamond-studded link chain, and knee-high polka-dot socks. Mr. Twist didn’t play. He just sat on the bench, the tags still dangling from his new converse sneakers.