The shadow league
“I was like noooo… when that shot dropped,” Ambrosius told theshadowleague.com. “I’m a basketball fan first and music was second for me. When I’m in town, I like to revisit my glory days. I’m cool with ballers period! It only happened by accident that I got into music. My father was a basketball coach, my brother played and I played for England. Only torn ligaments crushed my hoop dreams.”
Hoop Dreams is what this brand was built on.
Stephon Marbury was the first big fish for AND1, signing in 1996 with the sneaker company, but his campaign never really popped.
In late 1998, a grainy videotape of a young, skinny streetballer named Rafer Alston, displaying basketball wizardry with hip-hop music blaring in the background, was given to AND1 by a coach at Cardozo High School in Queens, NY.
The videotape, which would soon be known as the “Skip tape,” referring to Alston's streetballer nickname “Skip to my Lou,” hit the streets like China White in the '70s. It made Alston, who was already a Milwaukee Buck’s draft pick, a hoops legend. He bagged And1’s first endorsement deal.
The burgeoning company distributed 50,000 copies of the tape across basketball camps, clinics, record labels and other providers of dope urban content. When AND1 became a product partner with FootAction in 1999, a free AND1 Mix Tape was given with any purchase and about 200,000 tapes were distributed in the span of 3 weeks. Alston became was the first world-renown, commercial streetball legend and the focal point of the marketing campaign.
Once ESPN got involved, the product took off. Filmmakers were then sent across the country to find the next streetball legend. Television exposure, combined with constant touring, sparked the AND1 brand and made the players international rock stars.