Wilson & the VBL Host White Men Can't Jump Tourney
Wilson partners with the Venice Beach Basketball League to sponsor the first-ever White Men Can’t Jump 1v1 basketball tournament on the closing day of the season.
The decade of the 1990s was arguably the most exciting time for basketball. The NBA on NBC made pro basketball games an event to watch. Seeing Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing go head-to-head with the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Reggie Miller was a treat exclusive to that decade.
In 1992, the Basketball Hall of Fame labeled the U.S. Olympic dream team “the greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet,” and Hollywood got in on the hype with the iconic streetball movie White Men Can’t Jump.
Wilson enjoys a grassroots relationship with basketball culture. We honor events and periods by creating limited-edition sports equipment and meaningful sponsorships to inspire interest and support small communities. In early 2019, Wilson created a limited-edition ball inspired by famous ‘90’s basketball arcade games. Months later, we seized an opportunity to create a special-edition White Men Can’t Jump Evolution basketball and sponsor a streetball tournament, honoring the events depicted in the movie.
Venice Beach, California, enjoys an unofficial status of “Basketball Capital of the World.” The outdoor courts, graffiti, and the love of the sport resonate with audiences and sports fans, both national and international. At the center of this cultural phenomenon is the Venice Basketball League—or VBL.
The VBL (https://www.veniceball.com) team operates out of two apartments on the Venice beachfront. Their mission is to unite great players from all over the world to compete, teach, and enjoy this popular version of one of the world’s most loved sports.
VBL’s summer league closing day draws thousands of players and spectators, and since 2012, the organization has dedicated the day to the legendary and late Ron Beals. Ron Beals played a small role in White Men Can’t Jump, but in real life, he was a fixture at the Venice Beach basketball courts as a player, a mentor, and a team coach.
Ben De La Cruz, a Global Product Line Manager at Wilson, had been following the VBL for years. Ben was impressed by the organization, its mission, and its unique uniform designs. After securing a collaboration with FOX, the studio that produced White Men Can’t Jump, Ben and his colleague Christopher Rickert watched the movie again and were inspired by the graffiti and the streetball culture reflected on the screen. The two also noticed that Wilson was one of the sponsors of the final tournament in the film.
They enlisted Corin Chesterson, Grassroots Marketing Specialist at Wilson, to contact the VBL and lay the groundwork that resulted in the first White Men Can’t Jump 2v2 Invitational Tournament, held on Ron Beals Day in 2019. “Everything aligned perfectly. They were on board right away,” says Chesterson. “It was a perfect match because the movie was filmed on the exact courts that they host their games!”
De La Cruz and Rickert then worked with Wilson’s Graphic Designer Tim O’Brien to concept the balls. O’Brien drew from the film to design the limited-edition basketball that proudly sports the movie’s classic graffiti designs and captures the spirit of the Venice Beach courts. The Evo Editions Limited Edition ball came with a free White Men Can’t Jump mini-basketball that is fully covered with the same graffiti design.
To bring the entire event together, Wilson collaborated with their partners at Sneaker News to enlist Pro Basketball Trainer, Chris Brickley to co-host what would turn out to be an epic day in Venice.
The Big Day
According to Eli Weiner, Wilson’s Partnerships Manager for Team Sports, “It was awesome.” The VBL put together a day full of events and fun for everyone. The WMCJ Tournament kicked off at noon on August 11, 2019, on the Venice Beach courts. From 12 pm to 4 pm that Sunday, uninterrupted except for a bikini fashion show, the 2v2 teams paid homage to the movie and played their hearts out. The event embodied the spirit of the film and provided extra entertainment before the VBL’s championship tournament engaged at 6 pm. At 8 pm, the league treated the crowd to a jumbotron screening of White Men Can’t Jump to cap the end of a perfect day of streetball.
Wilson is proud to sponsor these celebrations of sports, community, and fellowship. Collaborating with these organizations brings the company closer to sports lovers and spectators who understand and appreciate the role of groups such as the VBL.
Check back with us to see more partnerships and limited-edition balls, and to watch how we are helping grassroots athletic organizations succeed.