Sport has always been a great unifier.
A common bond that can bring people together, regardless of nationality, race and creed.
A level playing field that allows competition to break down boundaries, and unite us all in the love of a game.
Nothing exemplifies this quite like basketball.
Whether a simple game of pick up, shooting threes with friends, or something a little more organised, across the courts of Dubai we see the essence of community.
At Sole DXB we were able to see this in full flow, with a synonymous brand showcasing the game and its community to thousands of visitors.
Nike’s House of Jumpman activations are known the world over for their spectacular presence, and this year along with the on court action and customisable clothing and footwear, they had a very special guest.
Ray Allen is a two-time NBA Championship winner, 10-time All Star, Olympic gold medalist, and Hall of Famer who lit up the game with his long range shooting, defense and ability to find the basket from seemingly any angle.
Now retired, Allen is a face for the growth of the sport & is working to promote the game as a whole across the globe.
He was thrilled to be in Dubai and taking part in a number of Nike’s community initiatives.
“Jumpman has always had great activations. This is similar to All-Star weekend – this is on another level being here in Dubai. I certainly enjoy it – it’s one of the most fun,” he said.
Working with Nike and the Jordan brand, Allen sees the importance of taking basketball to new and emerging markets that maybe don’t have professional leagues, but have a hunger and passion for the game that can translate into something big.
“For sports leagues and for strong brands it is important to find emerging markets. It is important to travel to markets like this, there are so many great resources here in Dubai.
“We are able to shrink the world and bring what we know and what we have done to the young people and ultimately that is what grows a sport and a community and allows basketball culture to flourish.”
As man who has had his career immortalized in the form of custom shoes, he says that the Jordan brand is the perfect platform for that.
“Nike has always stood for diversity and has known and understood that their athletes come from almost every walk of life. When they have done activations in any market they have always brought everybody together. No matter who you are, Nike has been synonymous with running, playing basketball and competition.
“There is a responsibility that comes along with that because you want to continue to build a community around your product and the game.”
The ability to now take the knowledge he has built up over the course of an 18-year playing career and pass it on to the upcoming generations is a source of joy for Allen.
“Now I have a greater opportunity to travel and be a greater ambassador to the NBA and the teams I played on and teach kids the game,” he said.
“I think there is nothing more satisfying than having a conversation with a bunch of kids and they are bouncing their heads up and down and agreeing with you, or you can tell they are thinking about what I am saying and it is seeping into their brains. It is almost like you can see a kid saying ‘I never knew that’ or ‘I’m so glad you said that’. I had that here in Dubai and it’s great to be able to give that information that helps people push forward a little bit.”
The prospect of an NBA game coming Dubai is one that has whetted the appetite for some time now – and with the fans and facilities in place, Allen says the city can play host to some of the best in the world.
“The people in the community need to create enough noise to say that is what they want,” he said. “You see the NBA brand and it is strong all over the world so in order for it to keep growing and keep moving into different markets pre-season game and regular season games there needs to be a strong pull from the community in that city.”