How One Parisian Basketball Court Is Doubling As Street Art

Details Magazine recently reported on one Parisian basketball court doubling as a street art exhibit.

Stephane Ashpool is the senior designer at Parisian based company Pigalle. He draws elements from his time spent in some of Paris’ neighborhoods Pigalle brings these elements to the street wear brand, and in a strong way this same aesthetic has translated into a really impressive street art project from the label. Ashpool who is also a mentor to local kids in his neighborhoods, has been training them in basketball for over seven years, so this project is very close to his heart. The aim of this project was to foster collaboration and engagement in the community. Blake Rubin discusses Pigalle and the effect of street art in the community

Located in Paris’ ninth arrondissement, buzzy and electic French fashion label Pigalle has teamed up with Ill-Studio to create a polychromatic basketball court. The court is wedged between a row of Right Bank buildings on rue Duperré, the space was initially redeveloped in 2009 by Nike with Pigalle founder Stephane Ashpool. I have mentioned how street art is essential in building vibrancy, not just for brands, but also the communities where these brands are located.

According to Detail Magazine, “The court’s intersecting fragments of brightly colored geometric figures were inspired by Russian artist and originator of the Suprematist movement Kazimir Malevich’s painting Sportsmen. The court is a tripartite construction, with the floor composed of panels of yellow, blue, red, and white rubber, the synthetic sort typically found on playgrounds. While the lower sections of the walls have been plastered and painted in the floor’s colors, the rest of the walls are the original brick.”

Pigalle Basketball, Pigalle’s second line, staged its spring/summer 2015 presentation at the court, whose dazzling array of colors is a sure antidote to Paris’ characteristic gray. The bold space is a whimsical foil to its classical/historical surroundings, one that has no qualms about standing out from the crowd.

The Athlete Is A Brand In The World of Basketball

These days athletes are just as powerful as rock stars or actors. The person is now a brand and every move an athlete takes may not always be in his or her own favor. Brands matter significantly , but in securing a stable and prosperous future, many actors and athletes have put themselves and their own careers in jeopardy, and on a macro level they also put their personal brands in jeopardy.

In the basketball world we have seen young athletes jumping from high school to high school, talented players with well-known reputations for their inflated ego or the use of inappropriate behavior on social media. On the courts, where the stars have made it , we see players who have lost everything or filed for bankruptcy, committed criminal acts as big as murder and as small as traffic light infractions, we have seen divorces or domestic take the athlete through a media frenzy, but most importantly we have seen how all these things contribute to the damage of the athlete’s personal brand.

Alex Kline, a writer for Coaching For Success, writes that ,”It is easy to shrug off what detractors say, but in the world of basketball perception creates reality. This especially applies in the case of the modern day youth basketball player: one who constantly doesn’t understand that their actions today will impact their future tomorrow. That is unfortunately the stigma surrounding the majority of young basketball stars these days and it is only getting worse.”

When athletes eventually realize that their wrongdoing can seriously affect their careers both on an off the court, a higher level of self awareness of the person as a brand is achieved. The athlete recognizes that the idea of simply being a basketball player for the rest of one’s life is an impossible feat. While young basketball players are being taught new ways to expand their game on the court, much-needed lessons must come off the court first and foremost in order for them to succeed both during and after basketball. This is where identity diversification comes in. I wrote about this in my post, Ball is Life: The Importance of Identity Diversification in Basketball. where I discussed why it is important to build a career outside your sole talent.

As people, we have cognitive response to everything that happens. Like sponges, we absorb information about our surroundings, especially people, and diagnose each situation in a matter of seconds. Branding is tied in with cognition. For every person we have ever interacted with, and even those we admire from afar, we have thoughts, insight, gossip and an overruling opinion as to whether we would be friends with that person, hire them, want to work with them, ignore them, or even hurt them. While few realize it, Michael Jordan is not the only one with a “Jordan Brand”. Every person has a brand. For basketball players, their brand consists of what they do on the court mixed in with how hard they work, their love for the game, what they do when no one is watching, how they interact with peers and strangers, how they handle new opportunities and struggles, whether they handle themselves well with the media or not, their social media pages and essentially anything else they do. The way they speak, walk and smile all factor into their “Jordan Brand”.

Unfortunately, young athlete who are just beginning their careers do not have tunnel vision or think long term about their choices. They do not realize the short and long term impact of every move they make and how it affects their personal brand. What is their plan after basketball and how will their brand either acclimate them to new opportunities or throw them for a wild reality check? Do all of them truly want to be broadcasters or coaches? Or are they only limited to these professions because of their limited qualifications and that those whom they have alienated won’t give them a chance in another field? No one has the answer to that as it is on a case-by-case basis. What we do know, however, is those who treat others right are typically rewarded, while those who choose differently typically are not. It is that simple, yet so complex to many. The answer to this might also be identity diversification, and I have written about this here

As the class of 2015 transitions from their glory days of dominating games as seniors, the true test of one’s character and brand will be their transition to college. How will they handle going from the amateur ranks to the dog-eat-dog world of college basketball: an unpaid job with a second occupation in academics and a true test of one’s love for the sport and their character. College is where everyone goes to find out who they are and what they are truly passionate about. It is only a matter of time before each of these young basketball stars builds their brand. Hopefully it is for the better, and hopefully not for the worse.

Lamar Odom And His Basketball Legacy

As more news on Lamar Odom’s recovery circulates the media, commentators and influencers in the basketball industry are fighting back to hold on to Lamar Odom’s legacy as a basketball player, despite numerous attempts, both conscious and unconscious to tie his identity strictly to the Kardashians. Thankfully Lamar Odom is in a better condition than he was last week, still it is worth it to understand Lamar Odom’s fall from grace and the media’s ravenous attempt to salvage information about his life.

In this article by Bleacher Report titled “ The Rise and Fall of Lamar Odom”, the lead writer quotes ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy in describing Odom. Gundy wrote

“A lot of people have wasted a lot of time thinking about who they want Lamar Odom to be rather than appreciating him for who he us. I always look back at where he started. In stories like his, you don’t see a lot of happy endings, so when you do see one, I think it should be celebrated.”

Odom was once of the best reserve players in basketball, and he seemed to be on his own way to a happy ending. He reached a point in his career that seemed to be fitting for a foreign player once touted a one one of the most talented. Fans looked at Odom to provide the answer and he always delivered. Not only did his skill and size prove to be an asset, but Odom’s litany of life experiences also added to his charm as a player. Fans and commentators were aware of the trials and tribulations Odom faced, and he was not alone. With his Lakers family everything seemed achievable even with a history of drug abuse on the part of his father, and the untimely death of his mother. At Christ the King Regional High School, Lamar would set himself apart as one of the strongest players in his class, and then opportunities seemed possible.

His beginning were rife with obstacles many people never climb out of, but basketball proved to be a way out, a story which is common amongst many players. Left in the care of his grandmother after his mother’s succumb to cancer when he was 12, Odom got a better chance in life because of this figure in his life. Lamar’s life on the court will eventually mirror the challenges he faced in his personal life.

To learn more about the Rise and Fall of Lamar Odom, visit this article by The Bleacher Report

Blake Rubin is a real estate development professional and a basketball enthusiast.

The Chinese Fascination With Basketball

In this article by the Atlantic, the writer highlights why Basketball is China’s biggest sport. Did you know that an estimated 300 million Chinese people play basketball? This is roughly equivalent to the population of the United States. The Atlantic writes that “Many Americans are just now learning of China’s enthusiasm for the sport as the success of Jeremy Lin, a California-born Knicks player of Chinese heritage, becomes an international phenomenon. But the sport is almost as old in the land of Lin’s ancestors, and maybe even more popular, than it is in the U.S.”

Basketball was introduced to China over a century ago by YMCA missionaries just a few years after the game’s 1891 invention in Springfield, Massachusetts. After that, it seeped into the fabric of Chinese lives. Until the NBA arrived in early 1990s, basketball had come to feel so intrinsically Chinese, most people did not even associate it with America. Unlike in the U.S., where a garden of sports — from baseball to football to ice hockey — all play a part in shaping a diverse athletic landscape, in China, basketball is perhaps the only true national sport, the only sport that brings together people of all backgrounds and kindles the nation.

Blake Rubin - Warriors

Some of the first groups that embraced basketball in China were mostly college students, western-minded scholars, and, most importantly, members of the Communist party, who loved the sport for its cohesive power. You would be surprised to know this but during the Long March (the Red Army’s storied year-long retreat in the 1930s to evade the Nationalist army), Communist soldiers and officers played basketball to lift their spirits and boost solidarity.

The Atlantic reports that “From 1949 to the early 1980s, the first-rate basketball players were all from the military teams, with the Bayi at the top,” recalls Wang Yongzhi, the associate editor in charge of Olympic sports coverage at, China largest web portal. He was referring to the Bayi Rockets, an all-military men’s team named after the founding date of the PLA (bayi means August 1). It dominated Chinese basketball well into the 1990s, producing stars such as Wang Zhizhi, China’s first player to enter the NBA.

Though the sport was favored by the country’s old military system, the Bayi team couldn’t keep up with the changes of the 1990s and saw its dynasty decline as commercial basketball leagues entered the market and started importing foreign players. Most recently, the team captured international media coverage for brawling with players of the Georgetown Hoyas in a supposedly friendly match last fall. The trajectory from then to now is endless.

To learn more about China and basketball, visit this article by  The Atlantic

Lamar Odom Under Life Support, How Did We Get Here?

have written a lot about identity diversification in basketball and how a lack of this process in career development affects the athletes when they are through with their careers. This week, the world learned about the shocking news of Lamar Odom who was found unconscious at a Nevada brothel. Sources claim that he fell unconscious after using sexual performance enhancing medication and cocaine. Odom is reportedly on life support for the second day and sources claim that not only was he on cocaine, he also took a large amount of herbal viagra. Odom has been battling a drug problem for years now, and this is of no news to the public, who also learned of the death of one of his best friends this year, still from a drug problem.

Reuters reports that “This week in a news conference on Wednesday, Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said authorities received an emergency call from panicked brothel staff, reporting that Odom was unconscious and had blood and a white substance coming from his nose and mouth.” I can’t imagine how scary this must have been for both his family and his friends, who have had to witness a prior death in their social circle.

lamar odom

Reuters also reported that “The staff told authorities that Odom had used cocaine. And they confirmed his usage on Saturday but were unsure if it had continued,” Wehrly said.

The callers said Odom had taken as many as 10 tablets of a herbal sexual enhancement supplement, Wehrly said.

Love Ranch owner Dennis Hof said during Odom’s three-day stay he had taken large amounts of “herbal Viagra,” a non-prescription product which can dramatically lower blood pressure and interact with other medications. I can’t help wondering how they could have allowed him to get to this level. Maybe if someone had been there to tell him to stop it would not have gotten this far.

The former basketball star has been rumored to have struggled with drug use.

The rise in erratic behavior on the part of Odom has been linked to his failed marriage, losing his career and a prior history with drug abuse. Where would identity diversification fit into this category? Perhaps Odom could have done with owning more businesses or tackling a life outside basketball as soon as his career ended. I hope that things get better for him.

Behind every great man, there’s a great woman.. on reality TV

Basketball players get a lot of flack from the general public. Today they are hated and tomorrow they are loved. It’s hard to see the value in what players do when the fame ultimately catches up to them. We have seen stars rise and fall even while sitting on the throne, and as we also know, the throne is not always open for seating. Kings come today and leave tomorrow. This fluctuation in assets can be attributed to poor money management, generous giving of cash to family and friends and bad habits which plague everyone from time to time.

Players like Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley are famous for being financially irresponsible, squandering money on gambling and poor management. Barkley apparently lost a whooping $10 million to gambling, Jason Caffey who filed for bankruptcy after losing $35 million has also fathered 10 children with eight women, and a failure to pay child support landed him in a hot mess in 2010. Antoine Walker lost $110 million from spending on assets like cars, real estate in bad housing markets and gambling habits. The list is endless when it comes to basketball players who are financially irresponsible.

No truer fall will be forgotten than the fall of Allen Iverson, who’s on and off presence in court, a four month stint in jail and an incredulous support of over 50 members of his family and his friends led him to file for bankruptcy a few years ago. Iverson’s life on the rocks, as highlighted in this article, explains the rise and fall of the star, whose career swung between a heavy past and a an uncertain career on the court.

After the money problems, comes the women problems or so it seems. This pattern of “trouble” for basketball players not only outlines how financial mismanagement or a lack of financial literacy is instrumental in ruining the life and career of athletes, but also the need for identity diversification in sports. If more athletes looked to careers or opportunities beyond basketball, perhaps the fall, when it comes, might not be that hard.

VH1’s surprisingly hit franchise Basketball Wives LA and Basketball Wives Miami, showcases the lives of basketball … girlfriends or divorced wives of famous athletes as they navigate a social circle and it’s nuances together. What one can gather from this show is that the lifestyle of athletes may not always be glitz and glamour. Leaving in their wake, broken hearts, upset wives and girlfriends, superstar athletes seem to have a lot on their plate despite all the money problems . You can take a hint from this video below

Ball Is Life : The Importance of Identity Diversification in Sports

In this article, Mark Manson writes on the importance of identity diversification, not just for regular people but also for athletes. Time and time again, we have seen athletes, even beyond the scope of basketball, retire from their careers and succumbing to mental illness and depression. It’s hard to understand this if all your life you have been geared towards different options for success in your life.

Unlike the civilians they interact with, and I use that word sparingly, most athletes have lived for one thing alone- the sport. The phrase “Ball is life” may not always be a great one, and may be potentially harmful if taken too literally. What happens to the athlete when there is no more ball?

A topic not always covered in the news. but both college athletes and the ones who ended up drafted into the major leagues are susceptible to major health problems. The Acupuncture Report, writes that, “the athlete is left with feelings of loss and a loss of purpose, and often asks himself or herself, silently, Now what do I do?” With intense schedules and training geared towards a stagnant goal for years on end, most athletes “crash” when they reach a peak in their career. We have seen this play out in the lives of many athletes in basketball, tennis, and boxing.

If athletes are liable to experience depression towards the end or during the fall of their careers, what is the best way for them to prepare, especially if they are already down the road? Mark Manson’s identity diversification theory might be the solution. This theory posits that the individual must see their life beyond the instituted goal. Instituted meaning the goal they have worked on for the duration of their life.

Manson writes about the American Football player Junior Seau, who committed suicide some years after retiring, and William “Refrigerator” Perry and his descent into depression after retiring from a long sports career. These men share the unfortunate commonality of a life without identity diversification, one where they focused on other things they cared about except sports. Manson posits that we must begin to give ourselves chances by honing in on the other parts of our lives which need work. The parts beyond our jobs, sports, exams lest we give only one thing meaning.

To learn more about Identity diversification and the lives of retired athletes visit Acupuncture Report and the works of Mark Manson

5 Highest Paid Basketball Players

When we watch our favorite teams playing, we also forget that a big portion of sports is business. The trading of players, the buying of teams, the endorsement, it’s all business my friends.

The NBA, though not on the same revenue generating level as soccer, is the third sport after the NFL and MLB with high revenue generation in the U.S. This can be attributed to the rise in TV revenue,  international sports marketing and branding.

While many of the all-time greatest basketball players of the past 20 years have received the highest payment of all time, these years also led to some large contracts for some otherwise mediocre players, or players most people would be surprised to learn are being rewarded heavily.

Here is a list of 5 players who have made at least $142 million.

1. Kevin Garnett

With a record breaking $315,372,398, Garnett’s nine seasons have something to show for. He has also earned $28 million per season.

2. Shaquille O’ Neal

Not one to shy away from the spotlight, O’ Neal’s hefty $292,198,327 reflects his highest season salary reaching for $27.7 million a year. O’Neal has also played in 15 all star games, and 4 championships.

3. Kobe Bryant

The total earnings for Bryant add up to $279,738,062. He has played in 16 all star games and won 5 Championships.

4. Tim Duncan

Duncan has won 5 championships and received a neck breaking $224,709,155 in overall earnings . Duncan’s play has also earned him a $22.2 million salary. What’s not to love?

Spurs' Duncan points to the bench during a break in play against the Heat during Game 3 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in San Antonio

5. Dirk Nowitzki

With 16 seasons under his belt, Nowitzki earnings amount to $187,675,468.  He is followed by Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, all of whom have earned above the $170,000,000 mark.

For more information, visit this article by Business Insider


Love Them Or Hate Them It’s Still An Obsession

Remember that song “Cult of Personality”? Well, LeBron James can pretty much fit into the list of historical figures in the song by rock band Living Color. I’m not making this up. Whether there is love or hate for the people we regard as celebrities, there is no denying that in some way it’s still an obsession.

According to a Harris Poll Survey, 2220 were asked to name their favorite sports star, and lo and behold- LeBron James. Michael Jordan made it to second place on the list and according to the survey. As of 2013, Michael Jordan was also the most loved athlete in the country.

lebron james

But wait.

James would not be a cult of personality if there were no opposing views to counteract this act of likeness. According to this same survey, King James also tops the list as one of the most hated athletes in the country. Business Insider also reports that Serena Williams is the most loved athlete, followed by Danica Patrick in second place and her sister Venus Williams.


What makes athletes endearing? Does the answer lie in their skill set? Perfomance? Recovery?  LeBron James’ s prowess on the court has been compared to that of Michael Jordan and other athletes who have come before him, but does all this still accrue to legend status? Though critics say LeBron is nowhere near legend status like Michael Jordan, he is close!


If LeBron achieves legend status today, would that be because of the love people have for him as an athlete? or would that attribute to the the sole power and skill he displays in the game. We may never know, but LeBron has proved himself continuously as a man who has set himself apart from the rest not just on people’s respect but also his dedication to the game and his own success as an athlete.

A Basketball Player in Cuba: The Anthony Carmelo Vice Feature

Carmelo Anthony is one basketball player who seems to be loved by all. VICE News recently covered Anthony’s trip to Cuba where he was greeted by scores of enthusiastic fans. It was his first time in Cuba, and from this video stream we get to see the global appeal of basketball. In an interesting fashion, Anthony’s visit to Cuba through VICE was to explore the rising interest in soccer in the country. This is a feature where basketball meets the rise of soccer.

I have written about how the availability of infrastructure and resources can influence people’s gravitation towards sports, marketing, branding and even training. Cuba’s history and economical decline have drastically affected how sports has grown in the country. The New York Cosmos travelled to Cuba to play against a domestic cuban team which is another way to build international relations between the two countries as icy foreign relations begin to thaw.

Walking around Old Havana, Carmelo Anthony can not even believe that he has so many fans. This disbelief can be matched by the true value of international branding , a strong goal and initiative the NBA is trying to push forward. We see Anthony mixing with the locals, talking to people on the street and trying cigars. The people are welcoming and it takes him no time at all to really get settled. Cuba is still untapped as a place for sports potential. One particular community organizer comments on how easy soccer is for the people to learn. Soccer is easier to learn and take up because it does not require as much initial spending on facilities and gear much like basketball or other sports. Soccer is now the sport being promoted amongst the youth in Cuba.

Cubans are ready to be seen by the world. They are ready to be known and to show what they can give. Lets hope we are ready. Check out the video by VICE news below.