I shot and edited a video clip from the House of Hoops grand opening in Harlem last night.

It features a Hall of Fame panel discussion that includes a 93-year-old Hall of Fame “Should-Be” by the name of John Isaacs, former player for the legendary New York Rens.

Here it is …

First of all, this is a world class store, not just for show. It’s on the same level as Prada, Ralph Lauren, anyone!

House of Hoops storefront

The new House of Hoops on 125th Street in Harlem.

And it’s not just for pimping merchandise.

All of my questions in this regard from yesterday’s post were answered. Nike’s head of marketing for the store, Daniel Griffin, assured me that the company plans to stage workshops, educational activities, motivational learning programs for kids, exposure to community leaders, and more.

I was satisfied with this brother’s answers and his sincerity. So too with every one of the Nike and Footlocker execs listed below*.

This store is a heartfelt effort that started from just an idea.

Panel discussion at House of Hoops

Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Chris Mullin, John Isaacs, and Kenny Smith discuss basketball at the House of Hoops grand opening.

As a sneaker spot, it rules. House of Hoops raises the standard of expectation for 125th Street, for other retailers in Harlem, and for the entire community. Not just because of the store design and the exclusive products, but also because it gives Harlemites (and former Harlemites like me) a new standard of what to expect for ourselves.

Attentive, positive, energetic, enthusiastic staff that were hand-picked from all the best sources, including other leading stores.

Harlem deserves things that are this damn good. This is like having a mini-Niketown right on 125th Street. But even better because it doesn’t have all that other stuff.

Julius Erving, John Isaacs, and Charles Barkley.

Chillin’ before their panel discussion.

This event was also a who’s who of basketball heads from the top of the food chain, including players, legends, retailers, and suppliers. For example, in no particular order, I chatted with:

  • Bobbito Garcia, publisher of Bounce Magazine, author of Where’d You Get Those?
  • Julius Erving, one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest of All Time, talked about Rucker Park and coming up in NYC;
  • Charles Barkley, TNT analyst, also one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest, and funny author, talked about his shoes and about Barry Bonds (don’t pick on one, unless you pick on ’em all);
  • Kenny “The Jet” Smith was the M.C. and he did his usual thing;
  • Gary DeStefano, Nike’s president of global operations and also member of its Board of Directors;
  • Johnathan Rodgers, C.E.O. and president of TV One, and a member Nike’s Board of Directors.;
  • John Isaacs, the 93-year-old former New York Rens legend, Black Fives spokesperson, and my dear friend;
  • Nike motivational evangelist Howard “H” White (you know, the guy who brought MJ to the Swoosh);
  • Craig Zanon is Nike’s general manager of global basketball;
  • Rick Mina, the president and C.E.O. of Footlocker;
  • Ralph Greene, the general manager of Nike’s New York office;
  • Adrienne Lopez, talk show producer and author of the titillating book Secret Lives of Suburban Housewives;
  • New York Knicks center Eddie Curry, guard Nate Robinson, forward David Lee, and rookie forward Wilson Chandler.

… and that’s not even all who was there (I didn’t catch up with Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, Nike president Charlie Denson, Hall of Famer to be Chris Mullin, and others).

Let me know what you think, once you check out the House of Hoops for yourself!

* I’ll share a sampling of insights from some of the conversations I had with these highly successful, highly motivated people in a future blog post.


More coverage from Inside Nike Basketball … and The Wall Street Journal … and Freshness Magazine … and AllHipHop.com …