we reminisce: the skip tape
For those of us that have been following streetball for years, we know that And 1 Mixtape Volume 1, also dubbed “The Skip Tape”, is what brough streetball to the masses. The story behind the Skip Tape is that Ron “The Teacher” Naclerio, the infamous head coach of Cardozo High [Rafer’s alma-mater], had sent And 1 these tapes of Rafer “Skip 2 My Lou” Alston playing in Rucker against older and stronger players. Now I don’t know exactly but I think he was only 13, 14 at the time of these tapes being passed. We’re talking about a scrawny kid from Queens, NY who was just shaking guys left and right with ease. So Naclerio had sent them these tapes and they put together the triple-OG, first ever And 1 game in New York which also featured guys like Shane the Dribbling Machine, Main Event, Alimoe, Future, 1/2 Man 1/2 Amazing and [RIP] Conrad “McNasty” McRae. I was watching Volume 1 Friday night and I said to myself “Damn, it would have been so sweet to see all these guys before corporate America kicked in.” Just raw, no BS streetball. Most of us have seen Volume 1 and know what the game was all about – people going nuts over Skip skipping down the court, Alimoe crossing dudes up and McNasty just swatting everything in the paint. I mean Volume 1 is definitely a G.O.A.T [greatest of all time] in the mixtape game, forget the fact the editing, music and video quality was poor – the fact that it revolutionized streetball and brought it to the masses, gives it that status.
Now, alot of people aren’t exactly familiar with the history of actual streetball, and I won’t bother going into that now but it’s important to look at our roots and see how far streetball has come today. For those of you that are deeply into streetball I would suggest reading And 1’s “Streetball: All the Ballers, Moves, Slams & Shines” because it tells you alot about the players’ history. Yeah, the history portion of it is targeted to And 1 players, but it’s still a good read no doubt. It tells you about how Rafer’s second nickname was “Wasted Talent.” In the sense that he had high school troubles, but it was funny because when he played on the team, he’d average like 31 points a game over 4 games. The first SLAM magazine I bought was a young Rafer on the cover in a Fresno State Bulldogs jersey and the headline said: “The Best Point Guard in the World (you’ve never heard of).” I still have that magazine and read it from time to time and what they put about Rafer is just amazing. In the Skip vs. Alimoe Battletape, The Teacher talks about how at Rucker he goes: “Yeah, those are the two best point guards in New York; that’s Rafer Alston and that’s Stephon Marbury.” It’s funny because the one thing I’ve been wanting to see for years is part of the SLAM interview where they say it’s an urban legend that one time at Rucker, while Rafer was still young, he went up for a layup but he ended up ROLLING the ball down his back and down his other arm off to someone else. Think of the tricks the Globetrotters do when they roll the ball from one hand to the other down their backs and shoulders – now thing of doing that in the air. I’d love to see that!
Going back to the tape..watching it just made me go WOW. This kid is no more than 15, 16 and he has all the confidence in the world going at these guys. The best part of it was that unlike alot of streetball these days, Skip [and Alimoe] weren’t setting their guys up, they would make the defence react the way they wanted them to without thinking about it. Skip faking the pass then putting it thru his for the dish and his infamous, trademark spin move shaking defenders like it’s nothing. We hear alot about And 1 and other streetball events including some form of choreography, no matter how acute it is – but the stuff on Volume 1 was definitely legit because it’s not like EVERY pass or EVERY dunk was successful, heck I think on most of Skips passes they were intercepted, but how fluid it was was breath-taking. These guys were just having fun, no gimmicks, no contracts on the line, no sponsorships just a packed gym of people watching a show.
Most of us are fans of Streetball: Season 1 because of how much we could relate to it. By that I mean, some of us may have been in the gym, for free, just inches from these big star players seeing them play local talent. Now it’s a bit different and it’s become more of a reality show. However, this summer will be interesting and will prove whether SOMETHING out there can compete with the gigantic shadow And 1 has placed over streetball.
One thing I realized from watching the Skip Tape and comparing it to where streetball today is that, just like the evolution of man, everything has to have change to continue. Years ago [and up until Friday night] I was one of the people that would say “Oh streetball is hurt now, it’s all about money, not about the REALness of it”…But like I said, everything needs change to continue on, it needs to evolve yearly. Volume 1 launched And 1 out there and has made it what it is today. Although it may be run by greed or lack of democracy in the organization – it’s still what connected us to streetball, so we’re forever in their debt for that. Past few years have been all And 1, but we’ve seen some smaller organizations creep up with games here and there, garnering some recognition from fans. But the real change is in Ball 4 Real and how they’ll attempt to out-throne And1. Change will keep streetball alive.
“Conrad..you block my shot, I block your shot..but it’s all love baby.”-1/2 Man 1/2 Amazing