Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
New York City has now lost the Jordan Classic, the Boost Mobile Elite 24 event and the ABCD Camp within the span of four years – and needs a big-time high school event to restore its prominence on the grassroots circuit.
**Nike moved the Jordan Classic to North Carolina for April 2011 because of the ongoing renovation at Madison Square Garden.
**Kris Stone, founder of the Boost Mobile game, took that event to Venice Beach, Calif., in 2010 after the 2009 game was rained out and moved inside to the Gauchos Gym.
**Sonny Vaccaro’s legendary ABCD Camp departed Fairleigh Dickinson in 2006 when he retired from the sneaker business, and Chris Rivers briefly held the Reebok All-American Camp in Philly for a couple of years afterward.
Now New York has nothing.
With a huge vacuum occupying the Big Apple, the time is right for some sneaker company to strike.
If Nike was smart, they would move the LeBron James Skills Academy – their marquee summer event – to New York from Akron.
Have you ever been to Akron?
There’s a reason LeBron left. There’s nothing there. Nothing.
Imagine if 80 of the top high school prospects – and 20 of the elite college players – spent a week in July in New York City, or at nearby Fairleigh Dickinson University, site of Vaccaro’s famed ABCD Camp?
Imagine the publicity such a camp would draw.
Dozens of sportswriters from The New York Times, Daily News, New York Post, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, SNY and other outlets would cover the event, just as they did during the heyday of the ABCD Camp that featured Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, O.J. Mayo, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson.
Aside from Major League Baseball, the summer is generally a slow time in the sportswriting world, so there would be plenty of journalists looking to cover the top players and stories of the summer.
Holding an event in the New York City area is expensive, to be sure, but somebody with deep pockets, like Nike, could afford it.
And such an event would enable Nike to parade its stars – Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash, etc. – in front of the press in the biggest media market in the world.
If not Nike, what about Li Ning, Under Armour or Five Star?
Vaccaro is going back and forth with Li Ning, the Chinese apparel company, about a potential return to the sneaker business.
What better way for Sonny and Li Ning to make a splash than to hold a big-time camp in the New York area in early July?
“I believe there are going to be opportunities for me to be involved in things next summer,” Vaccaro said this fall. “I don’t know exactly if I will do them or how I’ll do them, but I do know there’s a lot of interest and I’m going to listen.”
Under Armour and Five Star, which is undergoing an ownership change, would also do well to think about bringing back an event to the Big Apple.
Somebody needs to do it.
And they need to strike while the iron is hot.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.