A Streetball Mixtape Episode 1

A Streetball MixtapeDrawing inspiration from hip hop mixtapes, this podcast explores the essence of streetball through a collection of legendary stories.


30 for 30 Podcasts: A Streetball Mixtape


SET FREE: Peace earthlings and beyond you are listening to a streetball mixtape from 30 for 30. 


For those who don’t know me, my name is Set Free. I’m a Jedi, a taste maker, an entrepreneur, a man of the culture who’s been involved in hip hop and basketball for over 30 years. 


I’m actually the guy who put the music to the video footage of legendary point guard Rafer “Skip to my Lou” Alston crossing people up in the gyms and playgrounds all across New York city. The combination of hip hop tracks and streetball highlights became what we know today as the AND1 Mixtape. 


[AND1 Mixtape

SWAY:  Aye yo check this out this is Sway from the world famous wake up show with King Tech and DJ Revolution and y’all about to view the And1 Mixtape on Video.]


SET FREE: The AND1 mixtape was special because it was on a VHS tape. The tapes move fast from the illest crossovers and no look passes to an incredible windmill dunk using hip hop to heighten everything on the screen. When the mix tapes blew up in the late nineties, they took New York city in the world by storm.


[ESPN Streetball Show
FANS: I love you guys! I love you guys! And1!] 


SET FREE: If you wanna learn more about that era, check out the 30 for 30 film The Greatest Mixtape Ever now available on ESPN Plus. 


In this episode, we’re going to share a collection of stories that explores the essence of streetball. Streetball, Playground basketball, Pickup – whatever you call it – is full of trash talk, no look passes, and broken ankles. And you can find streetball at city parks and rec centers. ProAm leagues and NBA arenas. Even in your driveway. It’s the spirit of the game in its purest form. It’s the culture of basketball. This is a mixtape from the culture. And you’re going to hear from some of the people who love it and live it. 


People like God Shammgod, Jamal Crawford, Chelsea Gray, and some names that might surprise you. So let’s get it. I’m Set Free. And you are listening to A Streetball Mixtape from 30 for 30.

GOD SHAMMGOD: First of all, New York in the ’90s is the best era of any era in the world, period. 

My name is God Shammgod from Brooklyn, New York. Was McDonald’s All-American. Went to La Salle Academy, then went to Providence for two years. Got drafted by the Washington Wizards. Assistant coach and player development for the Dallas Mavericks. Known as one of the best dribblers of all time. Some would say the best dribbler, some would say one of the best, so, you know. Just a kid from New York with a dream. 


I was born in Kings County Hospital. I lived in Brooklyn ’til I was eight years old in Crown Heights and then Bed-Stuy. People in the neighborhood was real loving. Mom’s loving, father loving. My father used to train a lot of boxers at this boxing gym, so I knew how to fight. 


Around eight or nine, like, my whole world changed, and my father got arrested and he went to jail. So once that happened, my moms moved me and my little brother and my little sister to Harlem. Everything in Harlem was like a movie. Everybody’s so, like, flashy. Everything is money. You have the Apollo. You have 125th Street. So it’s just like a whole different world.


I don’t care who you are. You had to come through Harlem to be considered a celebrity, especially a African American celebrity.


So I went to a school called PS 92, and my first day at class, I met a guy named Mason Betha, which the whole world know as Mase, one of the best rappers ever. Me and him just kind of hit it off, and he was like, “Yeah, you know, played basketball.” And I was like, “Basketball?” I was like, you know, “I don’t really know about basketball. I know about karate and wrestling.” He was like, “I’m gonna take you to this game.”


[2005 Rucker Park Audio
Announcer: …hard rebound. Gordy, that’s his shot. Easy!]

GOD SHAMMGOD: He took me to this park called Rucker Park, and it was like, so crowded, and I, I didn’t know what they was doing ’cause it was so packed. I have never seen this many people in one place at my life at that time. And it was so crazy ’cause we couldn’t really get into the park. And he was like, “We gonna climb on the gate and sit in the tree.” So we climbed up there, we sitting in the tree. Everybody was going crazy. The ladies was dressed nice, the guys was dressed fly. It was so many cars, jewelry, flashy, and I was like, “Man, I gotta learn how to play basketball.”


[2005 Rucker Park Audio
Announcer: …he’s got the ball inside!]

GOD SHAMMGOD: Basketball, when I really got into it and I really got it, like my brain just had, like, all these shock waves, like endorphins just opening up. Like just a happy space. And I just felt like this was a space I owned. Like nobody could take this space from me. I saw how quickly I started learning and picking up on stuff. ‘Cause like I said, my father trained boxers and I was used to reading the stuff. So I was already, a person that was disciplined, so if I liked something, I would practice it all the time.


It’s funny ’cause Mase and ’em, they used to go parties. They all walked past the park, and they would be like, “Ah, look at Shams. Like, what’s he doing? Like, he’s just … He- he’s doing all this stuff.” And then they come back from the party, like 3:00 in the morning, I still be right there.


I got to one point I was practicing like eight hours a day. I used to be the park dribbling and I used to always go to one side of the court because it had a light, and the light shined on the court. And I always wanted to be at that spot because it, it would always show my shadow. So I, it was, it was at one point where, this is for, like a year and a half, I really believed I could shake my shadow. So I used to be dribbling so fast, like, when I say, like, so fast trying to shake my shadow, then I got to a point where I start taking, um, two pound ankle weights and put it on my wrist, so I could practice dribbling and dribbling. So when I took, when I took it off my wrist, I would, my, my arms would move real faster. To this day, I think I, I think I did it once. I think I did it once. It might sound crazy, but I really think I did it once. I think I shook my shadow one time.


GOD SHAMMGOD: At that point, I wasn’t even thinking about money. I worked so hard on my game not for college, not for NBA, just to be the best at Rucker Park. It was like one of the biggest shows on earth. 


I remember being in Bentley’s with me and Mase and Puff Daddy. You know, Sean Combs ’cause I played with Bad Boy. You know, and I’m 15 years old. You know, and at this time, Bad Boy is like the hottest record label in the, the world. Coming to the games and shaking hands with Fat Joe. You’re shaking hands with Jay-Z. You’re shaking hands with Master P. That’s stuff where you’re like, you want to say, like, you’re like the people’s champ. Like, you know? Everybody, like, loves you and recognizes you. It’s that Madison Square Garden feeling, but in the street. 


You know, just everything in the ’90s was so crazy coming out of New York. If you look at the way rappers are now, the way rappers wear jewelry, the way rappers wear clothes, that’s New York City streets right there. All day every day. The style of basketball that’s being played now. That’s dedicated to Rucker Park; to street basketball.


Being a coach in the NBA now, when I look, I laugh because I always say, “Man if the NBA recognized the stuff they recognize now, back then a lot of people I know growing up would have made it to the NBA.” ‘Cause back then, it was considered, “Oh, he’s too fancy. Oh, he’s too this, he’s too that.” But now, the NBA is nothing but organized streetball. If you look at the way the players play, whether it’s James Harden, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, whatever, they pay just like the guys I grew up with. And I think why hip hop and, uh, basketball are so close because at one point, they said hip hop wouldn’t last, and then it became the forefront to everybody’s story.


And that’s the same thing with streetball. It was like, nah, that’s gonna, that’s not gonna last. And now it’s crossed over to where you have millions of kids knowing all the streetball players, practicing they moves and taking things to the next level.


SET FREE: All that time, shaking his shadow definitely paid off a Shammgod.
There’s a move named after him. They call it the sham, God. And it’s one of the illest crossovers in basketball. To keep it a hundred not a lot of players get a whole move named after him. But if you could hoop, you might just get a nickname. You got guys like the professor, hot sauce, shame the dribbling machine, white chocolate, main event and half-man half-amazing. Just to name a few, the great ones stick with us. But the thing is nicknames. Aren’t given, they’re earned. And one of the people responsible for some of the best nicknames in the business is none other than Al Cash.

[AL CASH:  Future thinks about it. Tightly guarded by the Teach. The Teach passes it. Over to the Black Stallion. Over to the Franchise. Oh! The Franchise. Yes.] 

AL CASH: My name is Al Cash, I’m from Harlem, New York. I am one of the, uh, creators of the style of streetball announcing that’s been going on for the last 40 years at EBC Rucker Park. Me and my partner, Thomas Duke Mills, they called us Tango and Cash.

[TANGO: I’m Tango!
AL CASH: And I’m Cash!
TANGO: And we’d like to welcome everybody to the world’s most famous arena, Holcombe Rucker Park, the home of your 20th annual Entertainers Basketball Classic.]  

AL CASH: We was like the sixth men on both teams, because you got 10 men out there, and we was on the court with them, (laughs) along with the officials, calling the play-by-play. 

[TANGO Rebound comes out. Where you at Cash? This is Showtime. Showtime to Harrington…oh baby! Give that assist to Showtime.]  

AL CASH: I’m one of Harlem’s first hip-hop DJs, so what I did was I brought my hip-hop style to the announcing.


A guy might shoot a jump shot or do a crazy move, and I would say, “I don’t see no hands up,” and then you got the whole park throwing their hands up. If you know anything about hip-hop, far as DJs interacting with the crowd, “Throw your hands in the air,” and, and things like that, that’s what I brought to the court.


People would look forward to us bein’ on the court, givin’ out a nickname, or crackin’ jokes. 


For a player to get a nickname, you had to earn that nickname. It’s not like you come out there one time and we give you a nickname. No, no, no, no, no. That’s not the way it goes.


It’s, it goes by you comin’ out maybe three, four games and earn that nickname. Malloy, we called him The Future. Everybody likes The Future. Rest in peace to Conrad McRae, we called him McNasty. You had The Franchise, Baby Strick, Escalade, we gave Escalade his name. Kemba Walker, I used to call him EZ Pass. He had a handle, he was quick. You know, it’s all about the personality of the player. The biggest nickname that me and my partner ever gave out was to Rafer Alston.

DAN SHULMAN: This is Rafer Alston at point. A New York City playground legend. He’s one of many JUCO transfers…]

AL CASH: He was only 15 years old at the time. He had one of the greatest handles that came out in the park. And he had just shook a guy. And after he shook them, he looked back, and he started dribbling the ball real high and he started skippin’. So, my partner started saying, “Skip, skip.” And then I start going, “Skip, skip, skip to my lou,” and the name just stuck with him. 

[Al Cash: Skip, skip Skip to my Lou!]

You know, just last year they honored me and Duke up at the park. They inducted us into the EBC Hall of Fame. And that’s when I really realized what we contribute to street basketball is incredible. 


Once again, this is ya boy, Al Cash, and you’re listening to 30 for 30.


CHELSEA GRAY: I’ve gotten this nickname as Point God, but I think it really speaks to, like, how I see the game. I see steps and plays ahead.I see steps and plays ahead.

RYAN RUOCCO: Gray zips it up the floor. Williams…you bet!]  

RYAN RUOCCO: Here comes Gray. The pirouette. Behind the back. No look. Oh! What an exhibition! Chelsea Gray with an And 1 Mixtape!]

REBECCA LOBO: Don’t hurt ‘em, Chelsea Gray. I mean, come on!] 

CHELSEA GRAY: What’s up? I’m Chelsea Gray. Born and raised in the Bay Area, California. I went to Duke University. Got drafted by the Connecticut Sun. Got traded to LA. Won a championship there. Then I took my talents to Las Vegas.   

Streetball and like, not the, having a structure on it is really how I grew up of learning how to compete at different parks, different rec centers, and figuring out how to fall in love with the game. And, it just naturally happened ’cause I would just go outside and hoop. 

I was in a co-ed league. Before that, I was playing with my brothers. I didn’t grow up and being like, “No, I can’t play with the boys,” or, “No, I can’t play with the guys.” They would pick me first on their team and that’s what it was. Most times, I was the only girl on the court, but I just felt that I was the only one in my neighborhood that wanted to hoop. 


Even going to 24 Hour Fitness during high school, a lot of the times I was the only woman there. 


I remember the first time I walked into a 24 Hour Fitness somebody looked at me and was like, “You looking for somebody?” And I said, “No, I- I came to play.” And they were like, “Oh, we have a lot of games going on right now.” They only had four and I was like, “All right, I’ma run with y’all.” And they looked, I’ll never forget it, it was like a look that’s like, “Oh no, oh no,” like, how did this happen? 


There was an older guy that was like, “Okay, she can play with us.” And I hooped. 


Hooping meant that they put the weakest defender on me and I was going to the basket, driving, passing, doing around the back passes, hitting threes. And so, they had to switch the matchup of course (laughs) and they got a better person on me, and I was still hooping. You hear oohs and ahs from the sideline of people like, walking into the gym trying to see who this girl is hooping. And they were like, “Hey, so do you hoop?” I said, “I didn’t just get out here on the court and do all that, and know I don’t hoop. Would you ever ask a guy, ‘Hey, you hoop?’” 


From then on, when I walked in the gym people already knew who I was, they were like, “That’s the girl that can hoop.” 



* Dial Tone *

ANSWERING MACHINE: Please leave a message at the tone.
BOBBITO: Aye Yo, Set Free. I heard you in town. Yo, there’s a game tonight at 8 o’clock. It probably won’t start until 9 o’clock. It’s going to be O-D packed, yo. Meet me on the corner, right around from the entrance, and I’ll walk you in, B. I got you.


SET FREE: Welcome back humans. This is Set Free and you’re listening to a streetball mixtape from 30 for 30. Next up is Jimmy Smith. While you might not know his name, you definitely know his work. Jimmy Smith is an icon in the advertising world and it’s created ad campaigns for companies like Nike and Gatorade. He even worked as a consultant on the classic streetball inspired video game, NBA street volume two, one of Smith’s best known ads is a commercial for Nike called freestyle.


In a spot, which first aired during the NBA finals in 2001, the sound of dribbling and sneakers squeaking are turning into a hip hop track featuring NBA players and streetball legends. 


Nike freestyle was a hit, but it didn’t happen overnight. Smith had been pitching the idea since 1994, while he was working at the Wieden and Kennedy ad agency. Then one day Smith was chatting with his boss, Hal Curtis, who suggested doing a commercial, using the sounds of basketball to recreate the national Anthem. Jimmy Smith, take it from here.

JIMMY SMITH: I had to go behind my back, between my legs, and pull the “okey doke.” I couldn’t tell him, “Yeah, like what we presented to you in 1990, yeah,” I couldn’t tell him that, right? ‘Cause it’d be dead. So I said, “That’s a good idea, dude. Hal, that’s dope. Instead of The National Anthem, why don’t make it a hip-hop beat and make it Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock.” And he goes, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” And I said, and then, and, “You know, maybe we call it, what do you think? Maybe call it Freestyle?” 


So, as many Black people will do sometimes, you know, even to buy a house, when I remember where we moved into the all white neighborhood, Dad had to use his white boss to be the guy who’s buying the house. 


We’re sitting in front of the client, Todd Pendleton. Well, I had Hal present the idea (laughs) ’cause if I said it the way I say it, it’s gonna put a different lens on it. And Hal goes, “Future dribbles the ball and throws it behind his back. Booger Smith catches it. He dribbles between his legs and then throws it behind his back the other way.” Just like that, it’s boring as hell. And I’m sitting up there going, “Shit, it’s gonna, it’s gonna die again.” ( laughs) “We’re not gonna do it again. Fuck.” And Todd goes, “Oh, that’s great. Yeah, let’s do that.”

Nike Freestyle Commercial audio]


JIMMY SMITH: What happens is it’s on a- a black sight so everything, it’s like it’s on a stage and it’s dark, like you’re on Broadway. And, everything is black except for the player. And the player is dribbling to a beat which is a hip-hop beat and that hip-hop beat is what, again, what you would hear from the sounds of the game. It’s- It’s whistles, it’s squeaks, it’s basketball dribbling. And, they’re dancing. You hear that term in basketball, “He’s dancing with the rock.” Well, they’re dancing to the beat, dribbling between their legs, and we cut it to make- make it even more so that they’re on beat, they’re on the one, as Bootsy and George Clinton would say.


And this is one of the first times that I can remember where a street basketball player is elevated to the level of a NBA player. And that’s what you’re seeing, it’s just a beautiful art piece. I mean, we could’ve put it on the street, but we wanted to make it even more pronounced than what these guys are doing on the streets. It’s artistry and it’s worthy to be praised. 


SET FREE: Summer pro-am leagues are staple in the streetball world. For guys who play professionally. These leagues are a fun way to stay in shape during the offseason. For amateur hoopers and streetball players, they provide an opportunity to prove themselves against the elite competition. This was true for Jamal Crawford who came up playing in a ProAm league run by NBA player Doug Christie. As a team playing against pros. Crawford got a glimpse of what basketball would take him next up representing Seattle, Washington it’s Mr. Mixtape himself. Mr. Crossover, Jamal Crawford.

JAMAL CRAWFORD: I would consider myself a baller and when you’re a baller, you can play anywhere. If you see me play at LA Fitness, I play the exact same way as if I would play with 20,000 people in MSG. 


My name is Jamal Crawford. I’m from Seattle, Washington.


I think I’m one of the ones to actually kind of bridge the street game and the NBA game together without losing either one of them. 


When I was younger, I was probably 11, 12 years old, and I was playing on the playground with the older guys. They were like my first trainers. The older guy who’s been through it, who may not have made it to the NBA, but he’s like, “Hey, we’re not gonna just give you the ball and let you dribble. We’re not just gonna… You gotta make this open shot.” 


I would look at it as if you’re a rapper, like just being in a cipher. You’re in a pool hall, everybody’s spitting their verse, everybody’s rapping. And, that’s kinda how it was. And if you could survive that, and- and do well there, uh, it gave you a whole different level of confidence. 

[Bally Sports
ANNOUNCER:One champion has been crowned, one to go, at the King Dome at the WIAA 3A High School basketball championships.] 

JAMAL CRAWFORD: Now I’m a 16 year old and everybody knows me around town in high school. 

[Bally Sports
ANNOUNCER:  The Rainier Beach Vikings, led by the talented, Jamal Crawford.]

JAMAL CRAWFORD: I’m not saying this to brag whatsoever, but in Seattle at the time, the Sonics were here. And, you know, they had just went to the finals. But, you could make an argument, especially if you go back and ask people from that time, that I was probably the third most popular basketball player, period. Like, Ken Griffey Junior came and watched me in high school. 

[Bally Sports
ANNOUNCER:  Many people consider Rainier Beach’s Jamal Crawford as the best player in the state of Washington, maybe the best player in the Northwest.]

JAMAL CRAWFORD: My name had taken off so much that everybody’s like, “Who is this kid?” 

DAVID STERN:  With the 17th pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, the Seattle Supersonics select Doug Christie from Pepperdine University.] 

JAMAL CRAWFORD: Doug Christie went to my high school ten years before I did, won a state championship. My high school coach was like, “Hey, Doug s- you know, said you could work out with him.” I’m like, “What?” If he says be there at 7 o’clock, I’m be there at 6 o’clock outside waiting for him. I’m like, “Just teach me how to fish, teach me what a pro is.” And so, he showed me. He was the first person I ever seen with a handheld phone, bro. This was literally, like, 20-some years ago. I didn’t know what (laughs) that was. He’s working out with ankle weights on, he’s in supreme shape. I’m like, “Okay. So, the best players in the best shape never get tired. Okay, I got it.” Like, I’m just making all these mental notes. He’s like, “Okay, come play with me at the pro-am.” 

So, when Doug Christie was home in the summer, he would, uh, sponsor these pro-am leagues. And it wasn’t social media, it wasn’t even in the newspaper. Like, it was just flyers that, “Hey, this run is going on. It’s five dollars to get in.” It was really for the pros to stay in shape and give them a platform where, you know, just to play against the best, just match up. 


That platform was invaluable, especially for a young player like me. At that point, I’m like, “Okay, you’re playing against pros, and some of these pros can’t really check you.” And that’s when I was like, “Okay, you’re gonna play in the NBA.”

DAVID STERN: With the eighth pick of the 2000 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Jamal Crawford from the University of Michigan.
ERNIE JOHNSON: Jamal Crawford, he grew up in the Seattle area. And in fact he played a lot of summer ball with Doug Christie, Shawn Kemp out there in the Seattle area. Has honed his game and really credits Doug Christie a lot with refining his skills.] 

MIKE BREEN: Crawford…high arcing three. A rainbow from Jamal Crawford.] 

[FOX Sports
ANNOUNCER: Crawford has it against Ray Allen. Doing his thing! Wham! Knocking it down.] 

MIKE BREEN: Pretty crossover as we said a couple of minutes ago. Maybe the best in the NBA right now.] 


JAMAL CRAWFORD: As Doug is getting later in his career, he’s like, “I want you to take over the pro-am.” And I’m like, “Really?” He’s like, “Yeah.” He said, “Because I know you’re gonna do right by it.” And so, it was an honor for me, and I took over 2005 and here we are, 2022.


It was Doug Christie’s pro-am. And then it was Seattle’s pro-am. And then, you know, uh, that had did well, but you said, “Let’s, let’s name it the Crossover.” ‘Cause at the time, I had just got Twitter, uh, and that was JCrossover. And so, I said, “Let’s name it the Crossover League,” because every other pro-am in the country has a name, like the Drew League, or Miami Pro-Am. But I said, “I think the Crossover’s different, it has a ring to it, let’s run with that.”


Pro-am means so many things to so many different people. You know, there’s a guy who’s 70 years old I see every single year. He’s been coming since back when I was in high school. And he just comes, doesn’t bother anybody, just watches the game. But I always notice him and make sure I go talk to him, because he’s the essence of the old pro-am. Being the ol- and now we’ve expanded to where we have kids play. We have the, the  young women come play.


Some of ’em, it’s the first time they’ve ever had their name called on a microphone, or ever played in front of that many people. And it’s just a melting pot for everybody, so at this particular time, I think it means more now than it ever did before.

SET FREE: Crawford might not say it himself, but make no mistake. He’s one of the most electrifying guards in NBA history. If you saw Crawford play over the course of his 20 year career, you know what I’m talking about. From the Pacific Northwest, we’re heading south. Some of the best basketball in Texas is at the Fonde recreation center in Houston for Dwayne Rogers who didn’t play in college or the NBA, the fundies where he matched up against NBA stars, which created opportunities for him to play overseas.

And with the Harlem Globetrotters, he calls Houston home and Houston calls him a legend. Here is Dwayne Rogers

DWAYNE ROGERS: I was a bucket getter, man. That’s what I do, I get buckets. My name Dwayne Rogers, they call me The Legend. I’m from Houston, Texas. I grew up in Trinity Gardens. I went to Kashmere High School, and I’m proud to say I played at Fonde Recreation Center.


Fonde Recreation Center, it is a place that everyone all over the world, Charles Barkley, Shaq, all of ’em came down there just to play and see what everybody talk about. Just like Rucker Park, outdoors, that’s how Fonde was indoors.


If you can play, you gonna go to Fonde. And if you can’t play, you gonna go to Fonde and you gonna watch. You will not touch the court. Moses Malone, he was the foundation for us over there, you know. He kept everything together right there, you know, at Fonde. 


You know, like when you’ve got a- a name like Moses, Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Kenny Smith, Sam Cassell, people wanna follow you, you know what I’m saying? ‘Cause they know if they in the gym, it must be some- some hooping in the gym. It was just like, “This is where you wanna be.”


When I first played against Penny Hardaway, he was telling me I was too little. He’s 6’7″, I’m 6’0″, I really was too little. But you know what I told him? You’ve gotta throw it to the other end. You’ve gotta throw it to the other end too now. 


Out of all of them, the hardest person I ever had to guard was Sam Cassell. Sam Cassell was, he just crafty. He real crafty. He used to post me up a lot because he had a, the post moves real tough. Guarding him was, ah, that’s my toughest opponent ever. 


I don’t care who I play against. I feel that I am the best player. Going against some of the great ballplayers, and I know when I walk in the gym, (laughs) if I didn’t step my game up, I wasn’t gonna get to play. And that’s the mindset I have when I play. 


You know, it’s a wall of fame in Fonde, right? All the pro’s on there. I’m the only outside non-college basketball player on the world stage. I love that people recognize what I done put in on the basketball court in Houston, you know? I really, really, really care that they look up to me like that, you know. 


Really, I, I’m truly blessed that Fonde was there for me. 


This is the legend, and you listening to 30 for 30.  



* Answering Machine Tone*
JADAKISS: Yo, Free, what’s good? I was at Dyckman last night. You missed it! The games was crazy. They was going off. Hit me.



SET FREE: Back in the 90s, the AND1 mixtape blew up because it was the perfect blend of hip hop and basketball because they was on a VHS tape. You could watch them again again and again, if you think about it, the only reason we had these tapes is because somebody picked up a camera and filmed what was happening on the court. Fast forward, 30 years, and the tradition lives on. And it does crazy numbers on social media and YouTube. The next two people you’re going to hear from understand using the internet to showcase what they could do with the rock.

Coming to you from Los Angeles, Californ-I-IA, it’s Kenny Chao and Ryan Carter, AKA the Hezi God. 

[HEZI GOD (playing basketball) 

No two’s. He gotta get a layup. 

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) 


Hezi God (playing basketball)

Oh, good D. 

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball)  


HEZI GOD (playing basketball)

Good D. 

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball)  

A lot of hand checking 

HEZI GOD (playing basketball) 

Waiting on the snatch. 

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) 

What snatch? That was money. 

HEZI GOD (playing basketball)


KENNY CHAO (playing basketball)


HEZI GOD (playing basketball)  

Scouting report. Make Kenny dribble. 

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) 

No, don’t make me dribble. 

HEZI GOD (playing basketball)  

Make him dribble. 

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball)

Make Hezi shoot. 

HEZI GOD (playing basketball) 


KENNY CHAO: My name is Kenny Chao. YouTuber, I do a little bit of fitness, trading cards, but basketball is pretty much what I’m known for online. Pretty much the underdog in the whole basketball scene, just, trying to, you know prove my case that uh, anyone could play basketball and just be out there as long as you got the mental, the physical, you know, you just gotta put in the work, so, that’s what I do.

[HEZI GOD (playing basketball)  


KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) 

Oh, I’m there, Hezi. 

HEZI GOD (playing basketball)

Hey you, you are, you watching that video. You know its coming. 

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) 

Come on man. We watched the videos, [crosstalk] scouting report says yeah. 

HEZI GOD: I’m Ryan Carter, AKA The Hezi God. My part in this is bringing back streetball. I think I brought back the true streetball style as far as play, as far as trash talk, as far as showing that streetballers are just as good as pros in a sense, can do pro things. 


I’m one of those players that, in a organized game, your coach is like, “Hey, watch that player. He’s a great player, but on the street ball court, I’m that player that the coach is like, “Don’t watch what he’s doing.” 

[KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) 

You want the nutmeg so bad. 

HEZI GOD (playing basketball)  

I do want the nutmeg-

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) 

I know you do.

HEZI GOD (playing basketball)  

So bad.  Here it goes, right here too. Bye bye. That’s game.

HEZI GOD: The whole YouTube scene, to be honest like, Kenny Chao kind of introduced me to it. 

KENNY CHAO :Yeah, so I was at a run at Maps in Orange County.

HEZI GOD:  Yeah, it was at Maps. 

KENNY CHAO: And, I didn’t, I wasn’t even in his run. I just went to go watch, ’cause everyone was like, “Oh [inaudible],” and I was just like, “What’s going on?”

HEZI GOD: Yeah, I was, I was like, I couldn’t miss that day [crosstalk 

KENNY CHAO: Yeah, he was going crazy and I was like, I was like, “What’s going on here,” and there was some high level profile dudes playing. Like, it wasn’t just like a regular run, right? So I went, and, it was literally the game winner. Like, this dude made someone fall, and everyone went crazy. Like, I, like everyone stopped, and it’s like, “Is he gonna make the shot? Is he gonna make the shot?” Of course he made the shot, you know? So it was game, and like, I was like, dude, I need to know who this guy is. I was looking at him. Found him on Instagram, I was like, “Bro, let’s play.”

HEZI GOD: We played 1v1 and he kind of found out like, bro’s, like, a legit hooper Like, you know, I grew a following from people seeing me on Kenny’s page and then other people started to reach out to me, um, building those relationship with people who are already in the YouTube game, kind of helped me continue to grow. 

[KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) 

Don’t leave me open, Hezi. 

KENNY CHAO: As far as YouTube, you gotta kind of find your niche. Like, I could name m-, multiple good basketball players, you know? Like, I could name all ki-, like crazy players that pro-, people have never seen on the internet. If you’re really good but you’re not entertaining, it’s kind of like, well, you’re just kind of like, the next, the regular dude that I seen at the park. 


That’s how I see with Hezi God. He’s good at basketball, but he will trash talk you out of your game. You know what I’m saying? That’s why everyone co-, he’s lowkey known as the villain. That’s what you’re called now, right? Like, the villain. 

HEZI GOD: Yeah, yeah, no, for sure. 

KENNY CHAO: And he’s just been kind of going off of that, and that’s why I tell people, if you got a niche, or like people start liking you for something, you take it, like, full throttle. You know what I’m saying? 

HEZI GOD: Yeah, like, you [crosstalk]. 

KENNY CHAO: You have to. 

HEZI GOD: Like, as much as people love the superhero, they love the villain just as much.

KENNY CHAO: They love the villain, yeah. 

HEZI GOD: Like, you know what I’m saying? And it’s just like, dang, the villain actually comes off as a superhero the more you start to watch him. 



HEZI GOD: You know what I’m saying? And it’s just like, like Kenny said, I just kind of rolled off of that, you know what I’m saying? I didn’t, I didn’t change who I was. I just kind of kept it authentic. 

[KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) :

Oh, yeah. Oh, there, on there you go. 

HEZI GOD (playing basketball) :

[inaudible]. Whoa. Saucy. 

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) :

That was in for the most part. 

HEZI GOD (playing basketball) 

They might not see it but they gonna hear the shoes squeaking. They gonna be like, “What they was doing? Running track?”

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) 

Can you shoot, though? 

HEZI GOD (playing basketball) 

Can I shoot?

KENNY CHAO (playing basketball) 

Yeah. Let’s hear the net sound.  

HEZI GOD: There’s potential for a viral clip, every time I step on the court, and so, if I’m playing twice a day, and I make two people fall, those are two viral clips that I can post in two separate days.


HEZI GOD: That’ll get me multiple hundreds of views, likes, and things like that, and so, that’s why I tell people, just, go, just go do it. But make sure you document it, because in today’s world, if it wasn’t documented, it never happened. 

KENNY CHAO: It never happened. 

HEZI GOD: You could have dunked on nine people. 

KENNY CHAO: (laughs) 

HEZI GOD: You know what I’m saying? Your team and the other team, and if nobody documented it, it didn’t happen. It only happened to the people who were there. That’s why I tell people, just document everything because you never know. 

[KENNY CHAO (playing basketball)  

Oh yeah. Nope.

Okay. Oh, that’s…

Hell yeah. I’m done. What? 

HEZI GOD (playing basketball)  



SET FREE: That’s all folks. It’s a wrap. It’s me Set Free. I’m signing off. I hope y’all enjoyed the 30 for 30 streetball mixtape as much as I did these stories got me thinking about the essence of streetball. And I don’t think it’s just one thing. Streetball is an art. It’s a community nicknames, shaking your shadow and hooping at the gym. It’s whatever you make it. So get out there fam, find a court, lace up your kicks and get in the mix. For 30 for 30, I’m set free and I’m out. Peace.



Narrator: Set Free Richardson 


Producers: Gus Navarro and Set Free Richardson


Line Producer: Catherine Sankey


Production Team: Marquis Daisy, Adam Neuhaus, Tara Nadolny, Reilly Bloom, Trevor Gill, Chidozie Ononiwu, Gentry Kirby 


Executive Producers: Marsha Cooke, Brian Lockhart, Rob King


Original Music: Sam Beaubien 


Episode keyart: Frank Morrison 


Voicemail skits: Bobbito Garcia, Jadakiss

Mix Engineering and Sound Design:  PLUSHnyc: Michael Levesque, Griffin D’Amato, Catherine Sangiovanni, Andi Lewis, Stephen Schmidt


Additional Production Support: Dave King


Licensing: Jennifer Thorpe and Andrew Blum, Ryan Brodhead

Talent Booking: Chantre Camack, Sharee Stephens 


Fact Checking: Roger Jackson 


Legal Review: Alan Lau


Special thanks to: Brenda Salinas Baker & Suzie Liu from ABC Audio, plus Julia Lowrie-Henderson and Kristen Lappas


Archival audio provide courtesy of: Al Cash, Nike, AND1