AND1 Open Runs returns to Harlem: Where dreams take flight and legends are born!

New York, New York - The Legendary AND1 tour returned to the mecca of basketball, New York, and hoop icons and AND1 legends came together to inspire the next generation!

The Legendary AND1 tour returned to the mecca of basketball – New York – on Sunday afternoon.
The Legendary AND1 tour returned to the mecca of basketball – New York – on Sunday afternoon.  © Paris McGee Jr.

Get your headbands and wristbands ready because the epic AND1 Open Runs finally made their triumphant return!

On Sunday afternoon, the New York basketball community was graced with the presence of AND1 icons like Phillip "Hot Sauce" Champion, Rafer "Skip to My Lou" Alston, Shane "The Dribble Machine" Woney, and Aaron "AO" Owens.

At Harlem's Kingdome court, a legendary battleground of hoops, the AND1 pioneers returned to search for the next streetball sensations.

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"New York is the mecca," AND1's Hot Sauce told TAG24 NEWS. "New York is the mecca of basketball. This is where it started at. Now that we're back, it's about us giving back to what we were a part of."

Hoopers from across the country show-boated in slam dunk contests, intense queen of the court battles, and epic five-on-five showdowns for all-star judges, including the NBA's Lance Stephenson and Harlem Globetrotter and basketball influencer Briana Green.

For basketball junkies, the AND1 Open Runs are like the Olympics, World Cup, and Super Bowl combined – nothing short of a sacred proving ground. Here, streetball warriors rise from the concrete, legends are born, and dreams turn into jaw-dropping realities.

"This is where it starts from if you ever want to make it to the next level in any aspect of high school, college, the NBA, or even in Europe," streetball legend George "The Messiah" Papoutsis said.

AND1: The cultural revolution that ignited basketball and hip-hop as we know it today

AND1 was a cultural phenomenon that revolutionized the game with the mix of street basketball and hip-hop culture.
AND1 was a cultural phenomenon that revolutionized the game with the mix of street basketball and hip-hop culture.  © Collage: Paris McGee Jr

AND1 is more than just a nostalgia '90s brand that was once a huge threat to Nike.

The movement was a cultural phenomenon – the Hollywood of basketball – that brought the dazzling skills of the greatest ball-handlers to the TV screens of inspired young hoopers.

In an era before the internet became accessible by a click of a search button, AND1 filled the void, showcasing jaw-dropping streetball moves that were previously hidden gems.

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How did they do it? With their secret weapon: VHS mixtapes.

Like a wildfire, these tapes, featuring mind-blowing highlights of the most famous street ballers of the time, quickly became a national sensation.

AND1 exploded onto the basketball scene, stealing the spotlight from the NBA with its raw, creative essence of the game.

And they did it all with a cool, hip-hop vibe that sent shockwaves through the industry.

"Just being yourself, hip-hop, all of this coming together is what it is all about," basketball legend Hot Sauce said. "This is where it started at. With the crowd going crazy and the hip-hop fashions and basketball crossover. We took it on the road and ran with it."

What is AND1's legacy today?

Harlem Globetrotter Briana Green and NBA player Lance Stephenson were celebrity basketball judges at the AND1 Open Run at Kingdome court in Harlem.
Harlem Globetrotter Briana Green and NBA player Lance Stephenson were celebrity basketball judges at the AND1 Open Run at Kingdome court in Harlem.  © Collage: Cindy Ord & ANDY LYONS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Three decades later, AND1 is still ballin' like a boss, proving the unstoppable power of streetball!

With its ability to transcend geographical and cultural boundaries to inspire the basketball world, AND1is a living testament that no matter where you're from, or how you play the game, the love for basketball knows no bounds.

"The handle, dribbling, the creativity, all of that is what inspired me as a young kid playing basketball," Indiana Pacer Lance Stephenson reflected to TAG24. "Skip to my Lou actually played in the NBA. He showed that you can still play streetball and organized basketball."

Professional hooper and member of the Harlem Globetrotters Briana Green grew up mesmerized by the legendary figures of AND1, who inspired her to harness her own talents and become a role model for young girls in the sport.

"I grew up watching these guys. I started young and they inspired me being around the culture, being around the sport," Green said.

"They helped pave the way for me and I just try to do the same for all the girls out there. I gotta represent the ladies," she added.

Get ready to lace up your basketball kicks, hoops fans! AND1 is back and ready to reclaim its rightful throne in the world of basketball and fashion.

Cover photo: Collage: Paris McGee Jr.

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