Jaylen Brown ‘saved the weekend’ at an up-and-coming basketball event #Jaylen #Brown #saved #weekend #upandcoming #basketball #event Welcome to Viasildes, here is the new story we have for you today:
The Roxbury vs. Dorchester game has been growing in popularity since 2016. This year, it got a boost from a Celtics star.
Celtics forward Jaylen Brown (middle, green shirt) and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu (fourth from left) at the Roxbury vs. Dorchester basketball game
It all began with some playful trash talk at a cookout, and a question that has been around the city for generations.
Which neighborhood has the best basketball players in Boston?
Ten years ago, a group of friends called CrewLove decided to throw a basketball tournament. They scrambled during a two-week stretch to find teams, referees, and t-shirts for everyone.
Since then, the event has grown mostly by word of mouth and social media. It’s become a whole weekend dedicated to highlighting local hoops talent and businesses.
Perhaps the most anticipated event of the weekend is the annual Roxbury vs. Dorchester game, which came later in 2016.
What initially was supposed to be a 5-on-5 game between friends has developed into one of the city’s grassroots gems, and this year two of the biggest names in Boston – Mayor Michelle Wu and Celtics forward Jaylen Brown – stopped by, adding to the hype even more.
Bragging rights, Boston-style
The vision was for a true bragging rights game. No pro players, no Division I players. Just regular people from the neighborhood who love the game.
“It’s nice to see the guys that really don’t get to play these tournaments much,” CrewLove member Andrew Angus told Boston.com. “Just the overall regular guy in Boston who just loves to compete, or the guy who was nice in their heyday but is able to get with their crew and just play. It kind of opened it up for people to understand like yeah we all like winning, but the camaraderie is the best thing.”
CrewLove picks the coaches, and the coaches pick the teams. Roxbury leads the series 2-1 after winning this year’s game in a blowout.
The first game, at the Mildred Ave Community Center was packed, but the humidity in the gym made the floor too slippery to finish the game. That led to the game being moved to Emmanuel College before COVID-19 shut down gyms citywide. This year, the game moved outdoors to Harambee Park.
Despite moving three times in six years and a COVID-related hiatus, the energy has remained the same no matter where the games are played. It’s about putting on a fun, safe event for the community, CrewLove member Phil Jean said.
“We use basketball at the forefront to bring everybody together, but it is more than basketball,” Jean told Boston.com. “Eventually we want to be able to do back-to-school drives and holiday giveaways, stuff like that. The truth is, we need help on that. We’re still trying to make connections with the right people to make those things happen.”
Jaylen Brown saves the weekend
CrewLove uses the game as a platform to spotlight local small businesses. Some vendors brought merchandise and food to sell. Others provided free services like haircuts and painting for the kids.
Jaylen Brown’s clothing brand, 7uice, set up a mobile store at the game. The truck ended up coming in handy in an unexpected way.
“We tried to do things the right way, we had to get a permit for the park and supposedly we needed a generator permit,” Jean said. “We didn’t have that, so we were unaware. The police officer who came over and talked to us was nice about it, he was like ‘You can’t run this. You don’t have the proper permit for this’. Luckily, Jaylen Brown had his mobile clothing truck there and we were able to run the power through the truck. So shoutout to JB man, he saved the weekend.”
Brown didn’t just have the truck there. He personally came to the game and stayed for hours.
“The way he walked up casually you would have just thought it was a regular person,” CrewLove member Keith “Jay” Branch said. “There weren’t a million people with him. He just walked up, gave everybody a dap. I don’t think people really knew it was him until somebody announced ‘oh, Jaylen Brown is here.’ He didn’t have on the crazy jewelry, he didn’t have a huge security team, he walked around to every vendor, stopped, took pictures, went in the layup lines.”
A vision to ‘unite Massachusetts’
Events that bring people of all walks of life together show the city’s potential for becoming a more welcoming and inclusive place, Angus said, using Mayor Wu’s appearance as an example.
“Seeing the mayor there is like a cultural moment,” Angus said. “It’s like ‘oh my God’ she’s here, and she’s seeing that the vibe and the essence are here. She’s seeing that it’s not what people portray it to be. It’s like ‘look at this beautiful atmosphere of people’.”
One of Angus’ main goals is to get new police commissioner Michael Cox, who is a Roxbury native, to attend the game next year. Taking steps toward building safer communities is one of the main reasons CrewLove keeps the game going.
“If the mayor can do it, he can do it. If Jaylen Brown can do it, he can do it. If Rachel Rollins can do it, he can do it,” Angus said. “Not putting any pressure on him, but it’s good to see those faces out there. And at the forefront of this, I know there are some police that have a negative outlook within our community and I think that can change if they feel that they are a part of the community.”
Roxbury and Dorchester have both had issues with violence, Angus said, but he hopes that people getting to know each other through basketball can make things better in the two neighborhoods and beyond.
“I feel like our job is to unite the basketball communities within the state,” Angus said. “I think that’s our five-year goal right now to unite the basketball communities from Lawrence, New Bedford, Cambridge, Brockton, Springfield. If basketball can unite us, it can unite Massachusetts.”
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