Pick-up basketball has been a mainstay in New York City’s 5 boroughs and in cities around the country for decades. Though it’s been through a mainstream metamorphosis via the And 1 explosion, new documentary “Doin It In The Park,” a film by French director Kevin Couliau and New York renaissance man Bobitto Garcia, seeks to shine some light on everything the cameras don’t catch about the art of the game. The Urban Daily sat down with Garcia a.k.a. Cool Bob Love to talk about what you get when you take 180 outdoor basketball courts over 75 days and add a camera.
TUD: You’ve worn many hats in your day, from the radio to DJing, to your column at Vibe to now movie producing. But for the folks born before a certain time who HAVEN’T Googled you yet, where did it all start?
Bobbito Garcia: (Laughs) No doubt. Well, I’m born and raised in NY with parents from Puerto Rico. I would say my first splash in the entertainment world was WKCR 89.9 FM. Myself and DJ Stretch Armstrong, we did a show together for eight years that got voted best of all time by the Source in 1998. And in that timeframe, introduced the world to unsigned artists like Nas, Biggie, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang, Big Pun, and a lot of iconic figures from the 90’s. At the same time I was writing for “Vibe magazine. Years forward, I was the voice of “NBA Street, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2” video games and former halftime reporter for the Knicks.
Go Knicks… knew there was a reason I liked you.
(Laughs) Yeah man, I’ve been playing ball my whole like. Played pro ball in Puerto Rico.
Now that I didn’t know…
Yeah, I just played one season back in 1987 when I was a youngin. I’ve played in all the tournaments here in NY and pick-up is my sport for life
So with “Streetball” becoming more mainstream and having shows on MTV and such, what made you decide now was the time right time for D.I.I.T.P.?
Just for that very fact. I don’t call it “Streetball” I hate that word. It’s been misinterpreted, packaged and commoditized for the benefit of certain brands, and also media didn’t know how to express it. Just similar to how we in the community called it “Breakin” but the media called it “Break dancing.” So when you not from the hood you call it Streetball but when you from around the way, you don’t say “Yo, I’m gonna go play Streetball.” You say “Yo, I’m gonna go play ball.” I wanted to really create a documentary that not only defined but also explored that entire community as well as that entire culture. And my partner Kevin Couliau was the perfect person to do it with because he’s from France. He has a different eyeball on NY that I would.
I can see that, He’s on the outside looking in.
RIGHT! There’s nothing unusual about a Bodega for me. He sees a bodega and he’s like “Yo, I gotta film this!” So it was cool to collaborate with him. Plus he plays ball. So we went to 180 courts in 75 days and we played at every single court. And the fact that we played ball legitimized us to the players there and they opened up. Everybody was natural on camera when we filmed. Most times people forgot we were there.
Ok, for those who may not be totally sure, what’s the main difference between the pick-up players and the Streetball players on TV?
Well there are similarities, but for me pick up basketball is the absence of coaches, referees, organization… if you’re playing Pick-Up, you’re only there for the love. Not one person in the world is getting paid to play Pick-Up basketball. (Laughs) so it goes to the core common denominator, that everybody, whether you’re from Turkey, Romania, Tanzania, Indonesia, and the reason I’m saying those countries is because I’ve been looking at whose been buying our downloads and it is across seven continents. Hawaii, South Africa, I mean everybody who plays ball and people who don’t play ball at all, they’re loving our film. But to go back to your original question, I’m not trying to bad mouth what people refer to as Streetball. In my mind it’s beautiful, but it’s also like a highlight package.
And what exist in the community is deeper is so much deeper. You have mentorship, it’s a proving ground, and the playground is where style starts. Hip-Hop took its cues from the ball players, not the other way around.
How’d you come to that?
(Winks) You gotta watch the film! (Laughs)
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