TIM: First off, what is street ball?
BEN: Street ball is essentially a form of basketball that is played on the streets. It started in new york city in the 50s and 60s in the African American neighbourhood. The game is a bit flashier than normal and some of the rules such as travelling have been bent, meaning you can kind of take a couple of extra steps and no one will really say anything. You’re suppose to call your own fouls so games can be a little rough. Its basically a freestyle remixed style of basketball
TIM: How did street ball start in Hong Kong
BEN: The first recorded street ball tournament was in the 90s when Nike and adidas both had 3 on 3 tournaments in Wan Chai and Southern Playground. Lately, the past couple of years, this company started by this guy name Rock Ng Ka-lok, actually brought over a team o players from And1 like the street ball brand in the US, and they’re really flashy, bouncing balls off people’s heads. He brought them over and they played the Hong Kong team and also bringing the same people to Taiwan and China trying to introduce the game to the Asian audience. The Dplex group is owned by this guy name Rock Ng Ka-lok. Basically the company brings over Hip Hop and lifestyle events to Hong Kong. He’s the guy who brought over the And1 players to China and Taiwan and Hong Kong in the last couple of years. He’s the first Chinese born outside the US to play division 1 college football in the 90s, so he was a pretty good athlete.
TIM: Who plays street ball in Hong Kong?
BEN: Well in Hong Kong the most famous player is probably Mike Heung Chun-keung. He’s actually a semi pro player for the Hong Kong team, and he plays for a club called Winling. But on the street he’s known as Hong Kong Iverson, named after the US basketball player Allen Iverson. He’s really flashy with his dribbling skills and quite famous in Wan Chai and in Sha Tin. If you go there, you’ll see him on weekends just dribbling the ball between people’s legs, through his own legs, around his back around everybody’s back and he unstoppable basically, kind of a street ball legend in Hong Kong. There are a couple of other people who also play. There’s Matthew Jung, who’s retired now and now works for W Hotel full time, but he’s probably the best player in Hong Kong for the past five to 10 years. He played in the States and now in Hong Kong he’s really good on the streets. They’re also Filipino basket leagues in Hong Kong, they’re mostly in Wan Chai and they’re not specifically aiming to be street ball but Filipino players tend to be flashier because back in their native country that’s how they play. So the leagues are really loud, the games are loud and wild. If you go on a Sunday, Friday or Saturday night, you see the courts packed. They have female fans on the sides, they have a MC calling the action over a microphone, so its wild. The best place to play street ball is in southern play ground in wan chai or the court next to Victoria park in tin hau I believe or causeway bay. Over on MacDonald road in Mid-Levels its very good game mostly played by expats. They’re a bit more physical because the local game, a lot of expats and overseas players think, it’s a bit soft. Yeah, MacDonald Road you can play every night, weekends on Saturday and Sunday mornings is when the most people go, but there are games there every night.
What’s the way forward for street ball in Hong Kong.
Unfortunately Nike stopped organising street ball leagues recently because they’re trying to push for a more organised game. But the adidas 3 on 3 games still take place every summer and street ball games are still going strong. The thing about street ball is its not suppose to be organised,. You’re just supposed to get on the court and play. It’s the whole spirit behind it, not organised by companies. You got to just get out on the court and play.