Over the Labor Day weekend, The Liacouras Center was the site of the AND 1 Summer Remix 2013 Tournament, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the company. Sunday’s events brought the tournament to a close with Guy “Frequent Flyer” Dupuy winning the slam dunk competition and “Born Ready,” a team coached by NBA Pacer Lance Stephenson, winning the team competition.
The four-day event featured a 12-team single-elimination tournament with teams coached by many former NBA and collegiate basketball players, including Shawn Kemp, a retired six-time NBA All-Star.
“It’s all about being a professional and showing these guys leadership,” Kemp said. “The game of basketball is very important to play but regardless of what these guys do out here on the basketball court, they have to be prepared business-wise. Life is difficult and you have to be prepared for the future.”
Born Ready featured Keith Closs, a former NBA center who is playing internationally in China. He was the tallest player in the tournament at 7 feet 3 inches. When asked about his height, the Los Angeles native said he never took much notice.
“I never paid attention to it, I just go out and play like everyone else,” said Closs.
To aspiring basketball players, Closs advised that they should always get an education before anything, because nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, even for the best players.
At the tournaments conclusion, Born Ready took home a purse of $100,000 for winning the tournament, the largest prize in AND 1 history. Osiris Eldridge, a former Indiana State player, won MVP honors and took home an additional $5,000. Between the prizes given to Born Ready, Eldridge, a $25,000 donation to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a $10,000 prize to Dupuy for the Slam Dunk Competition, AND 1 awarded a grand total of $140,000 in prize money.
“[The prize money] shows that AND 1 is going in the right direction,” Stephenson said. “We have a lot of players that signed with us now that move us in the right direction.”
The tour also saw several former Owl standouts returning to their home court as part of the the Philly’s Finest team. Six of the eight players on Philly’s Finest once donned the cherry and white: Mark Tyndale, Craig Williams, Dionte Christmas, Dustin Salisbery, Micheal Eric, and Mardy Collins.
In addition to the local talent, the tournament also showcased the influx of foreign athletes into the AND 1 arena.
Dupuy is known as “Frequent Flyer” due to his origins in Paris. AND 1 signed him to come on tour and he travels the world, playing in countries including Spain, Italy and the United States. Dupuy’s main competition during the dunk contest final was Rafal “Lipek” Lipinski, a 21-year-old Polish YouTube sensation who was flown in to Philadelphia by AND 1 to compete in the contest.
“Dunking is a way to express yourself,” Lipinski said through a thick Polish accent. “All of us dunkers are related to each other. We speak the same language, the dunking language.”
While he finished third in the contest, Lipinski said his biggest challenge is that he started dunking at the relatively old age of 16.
“I am only 6’3” and I think I can jump 46 inches off the ground, maybe 50,” Lipinski said. “So it depends what you take advantage of physically. If the other dunkers are only taking advantage of their long arms and height, it doesn’t look good. I take advantage of my creativity and movement and that’s why it looks so good.”
Despite being more than 4,000 miles away, Lipinski said that he took inspiration from former NBA legends Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady.
“They were dancing on the basketball court, and that’s what I do,” Lipinski said. “Dancing on the basketball court, and dancing in the air.”
While dunkers speak the same language, not all of them rely on NBA players for inspiration.
“I don’t watch anyone, I never did,” Dupuy said. “I don’t want to copy anything they did, I rely on my own moves.”
The dunkers may not rely on the same techniques, but AND 1 is allowing them a chance to showcase their skills and broaden the appeal of not only the brand, but the game of basketball as well.
“We have dunkers everywhere,” Stephenson said. “We just need to keep [this tournament] continuing and make the AND 1 brand even better.”
Ibrahim Jacobs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ibrahimjacobs.
Logan Beck contributed to this article.