No matter how many All Star or All American games you have played in, if you
want to earn your stripes in the game of basketball, playing at the Rucker is
almost mandatory. Everybody from Dr. J all the way to Kobe Bryant have laced it
up on basketballs most storied playground.
In August 2006, eight of the nations most high profile high school players
made the trip to Harlem to play in the first
annual Elite 24 All Star Game.
Four of the eight players, Michael Beasley (Kansas State), Kevin Love
(UCLA), Jerryd Bayless (Arizona ) and Donte Green (Syracuse) are on their way
to being first round picks in this Thursdays NBA Draft.
The rest of the bunch: Brandon Jennings (Arizona signee), Kyle Singler (Duke),
Lance Stephenson (Lincoln High School star) and Tyreke Evans (Memphis signee)
are soon to follow.
Gunnin For That #1 Spot follows
these eight phenoms in the days leading up to the game. New York City native
and member of the legendary Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch a.k.a. MCA, produced and
directed this documentary that hits theaters on Friday, June 27.
This is the fifth film for the very busy Yauch, and he took a time out to
tell us about this B-ball documentary.
AllHipHop.com: Tell us a little about
your new movie.
Adam Yauch: Its a documentary about the top high school basketball players
in the country. And more generally, its just about the climate and the world
of subculture of elite high school basketball.
It looks at what life is like in the world of the top high school players
and the documentary focuses on an All Star Game that took play in 06 at the
Rucker in Harlem. And the doc really focuses on eight of the players that were
in that All Star Game. So thats a quick recap. [laughs]
AllHipHop.com: This is the fifth
documentary you have directed or produced. What made you want to go with a
basketball themed film?
Adam Yauch: It was really a last
minute decision to do this. A friend of mine was organizing an All Star Game,
and he asked my advice in documenting it. And I just started coming up with
some ideas and it seemed like a cool documentary. It was really Summer of 06
when I decided to do it, but it just sounded like a really cool project, so I jumped
AllHipHop.com: Coming into filming,
what was the most important thing you wanted to capture?
Adam Yauch: I wanted to get a sense of what these guys lives are like. What
its like to be a high school ball player and what it feels like to be one of
the top players in the country. And also just get a sense of what the Rucker is
AllHipHop.com: In the past, the Beastie Boys have made references to John
Starks and Bill Laimbeer in your rhymes. How big was basketball for you
Adam Yauch: Not that big of a deal.
You know, Adam [Ad-Rock] and Mike [Mike D] actually know a lot more about
statistics and basketball trivia. I went to some games growing up, but I wasnt
a huge basketball fan growing up.
AllHipHop.com: What was it like working with these ball players?
Adam Yauch: It was pretty amazing. It was pretty cool meeting them at such a
young age and see how motivated they are and just getting a sense of these
guys. Its very interesting, and I think it will be cool to look back like 10
years from now and see where theyre all at. Well it was interesting; they are
very different in their personalities and their backgrounds. They come from
AllHipHop.com: From the trailer, it looks like Michael Beasley is a fun guy who
likes to clown around. I think he pulled down the pants of Jerryd Bayless in
that clip. Tell us about what Mike is like.
Adam Yauch: Yeah, hes kind of like the class clown. When he walks in the
room, he does manage to be the center of attention. And I think thats part of
his game too, I think he does get inside of everyones head when he plays.
He was talking trash to everyone on the court, he was talking to the ref,
the coaches, the people in the audience watching the game. He was talking to people on his team, talking
to people on the other team, and I think somehow that is part of his
personality. And that sort of seems like hes influencing the direction of the
game its definitely interesting to watch.
AllHipHop.com: What did the players know about the Beastie Boys? Did they
ever ask you about it?
Adam Yauch: I dont think they really recognized me but sometime somebodys
coach would say to the kid, You know who this is? Donte Greens coach said, I
used to listen to these guys when I was a kid.
AllHipHop.com: Even though they were all high school superstars, did you
think they were a little nervous going into a park with the legacy like Rucker?
Do you think they felt the pressure to perform well with their reputations on
Adam Yauch: Yeah, I think they were nervous. But I think they were honored
to come and play at the Rucker and you can feel that. These guys are so revered
in their own markets and their own neighborhoods, so trying to establish that
at the Rucker was huge for them. I dont know if scared is exactly the right
word, but I think they definitely felt Ok, its time to turn it on now.
I mean, I could put together a whole series of every single player and their
coach saying like, Oh its the Rucker, you have to bring it, gotta bring it.
I think the words bring it came up over and over.
AllHipHop.com: What about the two suburban guys from Oregon, Kyle Sigler and
Kevin Love? Did they appear more nervous?
Adam Yauch: I dont know. I mean, I think both those guys are pretty
confidant players. Kyle and Kevin are pretty solid. I dont know if they were
really nervous. Kyle scored the first five points of the game. They both played
AllHipHop.com: All these guys have been very successful since you shot the
movie. Have you been following their careers very closely the past two
Adam Yauch: A bit. Like I said before, Im not one to follow basketball a
great deal. But I definitely check in sometimes to see how they are all doing,
and its pretty amazing.
AllHipHop.com: Bobbito Garcia is one of the most influential people in the
world when it comes down to playground basketball and NYC Hip-Hop culture. How
big was it having him involved in the film as a narrator and MC?
Adam Yauch: I think it was tremendous. Bobbito added so much flavor to that
game. The year after we did it, it was these two corny NBA guys and they would
say stuff like, Oh his nickname was Too Easy, and it just drained the life
out of the game.
Bobbito is such a part of the neighborhood, such a part of the history of
the Rucker and just the way hes just clowning the kids. And listening to him,
you really understand the culture of the Rucker. Even just the way he nicknames
these guys is unique. Bobbito is a critical part of this film.
AllHipHop.com: As far as the cinematography goes, what kind of things did
you try to do?
Adam Yauch: Well during the game, I just wanted to cover the game from a lot
of different angles. I wanted to shoot it with long lenses and wide lenses. I just
wanted to explore the playground, so that whatever went on, I wanted to go back
and dissect what really happened.
AllHipHop.com: Whats next for you in the near future? Do you have any
projects as far as film and music goes?
Adam Yauch: Well right now, were recording. We have a record on the way.
AllHipHop.com: The last record was you guys made was a Grammy-winning
instrumental album, what is the direction this time around?
Adam Yauch: Its more of a mixture of different stuff. Theres definitely a
fair amount of hip hop were working on. Were not done with it, but its
definitely a mixed bag.
AllHipHop.com: You guys have been around the music game since the early
80s. What is your take on Hip-Hop today?
Adam Yauch: I mean I like it. I like whats happening with Hip-Hop. Just
listening to different people like Jay-Z. Theres kids now that just grew up
hearing Hip-Hop since they were born, so its a new generation. Theres some
good sh*t coming up. Im not mad at it.
AllHipHop.com: Are there any acts besides Jay-Z that you are feeling right
Adam Yauch: Lately Ive been listening to records from the late 90s like
Nas and Biggie and whatnot.
AllHipHop.com: Where can people catch the film?
Adam Yauch: Its playing on Magic Johnsons on 125th
Street [and at] AMC on 42nd Street. Im just naming the New York, but if people
are interested around the country you can look at www.gunninmovie.com.
I think this is a movie that is best to see in a
theater. The way its shot is really crisp, and the way the sound is mixed with
the surround sound with the Hip-Hop songs, its definitely the theatrical