Street ball has been a staple in cities such as New York and Los Angeles for decades. Although Atlanta is a hotbed for NBA talent, the city has yet to establish a major street ball presence.
Jahi Rawlings realized that Atlanta had the infrastructure and talent to support a street ball league and decided to create the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League in 2013.
Trinidad James, Lou Williams, 2 Chainz and Young Jeezy were participants and attendees at last year’s tournament.
The 2014 tournament will kick-off at Central Park in Atlanta on June 15. Rawlings recently spoke with rolling out about this year’s AEBL tournament.
Why was it important to bring this street ball tournament to Atlanta?
A: I felt like the city was missing something unique during the summers. And I wanted to bring something live and entertaining to the Atlanta community for free. I also felt it was time to get Atlanta summer basketball on the national radar.
Can Atlanta build a street ball culture that’s similar to New York’s scene?
A: I definitely believe we’re on our way. I’ve haven’t seen people this excited about an event in a long time and I’ve been here in Atlanta half my life. We have some of the best talent in the country. We have a strong urban culture that supports creative things, not to mention all the athletes and entertainers live here, which is win for us because the more we get them involved and supporting the league and culture of street ball here in the city it’ll spread quickly.
What was the overall response of the league in 2013?
A: The response was great once we started rolling. I mean, it definitely exceeded my expectations for the first year. But honestly I never had a doubt that this thing would be huge for Atlanta even when people told me they didn’t think it would work or question how would I make it work in a city that’s use to playing indoors. It got to the point where after the season was over and I would be around the city, people would ask when is the next game or say the weekends were boring without the basketball league. So at that point I knew we did our job!
How will things be bigger this summer?
A: Man where do I began. We gonna turn this thing up a few notches as my guy Fort Knox would say. We’re bringing the first ever outside hardwood basketball court to the league, more pro players, celebrities, live entertainment and most importantly more community service programs for the inner city. We have some big big weekends planned. From community block parties, feeding the community, providing back to school supplies and two programs that I’m really excited about “Stop Your Bullying” and “Hoop In My Shoes.” The best thing I can say is you don’t wanna miss a weekend.
What do you want the overall impact to be?
A: My overall goal is to impact the youth and the community; to give them an opportunity to see and be inspired by something positive. A lot of these kids and even parents feel like nobody cares about them and wants to help then make it in life. Well, the AEBL is gonna try to redirect that by using our platform, relationships and creative ideas to bring light to them. Not a lot of the kids will ever go to an Atlanta Hawks game or get to see 2Chainz in concert. So we bring those things to them for free.
How can individuals learn more about the league?
A: They can connect with us on social media Twitter/@aeblhoops IG:@aeblhoops Facebook/Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League and our website: www.aeblhoops.com