The NBA season wraps up in June each year as the league crowns a champion. But just because the pro leagues are done, doesn’t mean there isn’t basketball in the summer.
Several cities host leagues and all-star events including Chicago which is home to the “Chi League.”
Each year, some of the best players in the city of Chicago descend on a location to participate in the Chi League. It even brings out the pros, including Jabari Parker and Draymond Green who have made appearances at the tournament.
Despite this year’s event being cut down from a month-long tournament to a two-day basketball fest, it’s still something every basketball player in Chicago needs to experience.
I experienced it first hand, well sort of.
The Chi League is put on by Nike each year, so when they reached out to me as a blogger to go through the experience, I couldn’t turn it down. Throughout our experience, I thought of what Chicago Basketball actually was.
The good people at Nike put several local bloggers and influencers through a few Basketball-inspired workouts to get us ready for the big stage. And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.
Our first workout took place on a Tuesday early in the morning. While it was a pretty early workout, it was just a sample size of what the pros go through almost every single day. As most of us are asleep, there are athletes out there working hard to get better each and every day.
The workout itself was tough. We went through several exercises and we defiantly paid for it in being sore the next day. At least I was. But like what drives most of us in Chicago, we all had the heart to finish it and push through. Chicago Basketball is heart.
Following the first workout, we got a few days off before taking our skills to the court. This is where it really got fun.
I didn’t play high school or college basketball, just pickup games in my lifetime. So my skills weren’t really polished. But that’s why Nike brought in a few trainers to help us out.
The second training session took place at Marshall High School in Garfield Park. You may know it best for being the high school Arthur Agee attended in the fantastic documentary Hoop Dreams. Just being on a court in a legendary high school like Marshall was a cool experience in itself.
We were equipped with the new Nike LeBron Zoom Soldier 10 and the Nike 2016 Hyperdunk, both designed to give you great results on the court. The drills we did were based on both of the shoes and how well they helped you on the court.
The training session was great as the focus to get better really was there. To get better you have to put your mind to it and focus on pushing through the hard times. That’s why, Chicago Basketball is focus.
Participants in the program were also able to test the new Air Jordan 31 model. The latest shoe in the Jordan signature line might be the best one yet.
Here’s what fellow participant Cass Gunderson from the blog A Sweat Life had to say on the shoe:
During the workouts and at the media basketball game at the Chi-League Classic, we got to test out some of the newest gear for training and on the court. We even got to trial the new Air Jordan XXXI, which very well may be the most comfortable basketball shoe I have ever worn. I was stepping on clouds.
The Air Jordan 31 is currently at select retailers in a few new colorways, with more soon to be revealed in 2016. Despite not playing in Chicago for almost 20 years now, Jordan remains an icon. Chicago Basketball is Michael Jordan.
As for the tournament itself?
The tournament provided plenty of excitement over the weekend but in the end it was the Mac Irvin Fire winning it all defeating Code Black 93-78. Mac Irvin was led by current DePaul guard Billy Garrett Jr. who put on a show in the championship game.
Arguably the highlight of the weekend was an appearance by former Simeon star and current Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker:
Special thanks to Nike for putting the event on and everything they did for the media members. It was an awesome experience and I can’t wait for next year!