The idea first came to Jerrod Mustaf while sitting in a taxi cab in Turkey, of all places. The former University of Maryland star was playing professional basketball there and while riding along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea one afternoon, he noticed a blacktop with 10 fully marked courts on it. He told the driver to stop and watched the locals play for awhile. And what he saw amazed him.
"I couldn't believe it," said Mustaf, a 6-foot-10 power forward who played four seasons in the NBA for the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns. Here I was in Turkey and I was watching a bunch of guys playing street ball thinking they were at RuckerPark, NYC the mecca. That's when I realized that this was the new wave of basketball being played all around the world."
When Mustaf returned to the U.S., he decided to spread the word about his revelation. He did it by putting together a team of the best street ballers he could find in his hometown of WashingtonD.C. and taking them out on the road to play local legends from other areas of the country, creating the Street Basketball Association.
No street needed
With the SBA you don't actually need a street or outdoor playground to play street ball. It's more of an attitude and style than a description of where the game is being played. Just ask the world's most famous street ball practitioner, Allen Iverson..
The SBA features some of the most athletic, jaw dropping dunks, passes, alleyoups, and raw intense in your face defense. One of the fans at a recent SBA. DC Legends game described in great detail how Randy "White Chocolate" Gill passed the ball to himself off the back of a defender, then fired another pass to himself off the backboard before passing the ball between his legs to a high flying Hugh "Baby Shaq" Jones for an amazing alley oup dunk.
Gill and Jones are exactly the kind of players Mustaf had in mind when he decided to sink his time and money into starting the SBA. While D.C. Legends teammates like Victor Page (Georgetown) and Antric Klaibur (UConn) have had their time in the spotlight, most are completely unknown outside of the D.C. playground circuit. "There are a lot of guys out there who have the talent, but never got the opportunity," said Mustaf, who grew up in Whiteville before moving to Maryland when he was 13.
"I wanted to help these guys out. I wanted to get them a coach, get them with some people who know the game and understand business and put together our own organization."
Now that he's done that, Mustaf is setting out on phase two of his plan -- to get his street ballers, noticed by the right people. "With hard work and exposure, eventually our players will start to get noticed and get a shot." If not here in the U.S., then anywhere else in the world where street ball is played. Even Turkey!