"The game of basketball has been everything to me," wrote Michael Jordan. "My place of refuge, place I've always gone where I needed comfort and peace. It's been the site of intense pain and the most intense feelings of joy and satisfaction."
I love the community feel surrounding Boise's NBA D- League Team. It brings me back to my days growing up in the east, watching legends from the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets. I first learned the term "Thread the needle pass" after my father identified an amazing throw that Eric "Sleepy" Floyd had just completed.
I remember sitting at courtside and marvelling at the sheer size of Darryl Dawkins, and how he effectively began the "Gorilla Dunk," a now common occurrence in the sport.
On the playgrounds of New York and New Jersey, shooting hoops was a social gathering that connected people at all levels. Stepping out one afternoon and seeing aspiring, future, and past NBA stars was a common occurrence.
I'll never forget those days.
After moving to Idaho eleven years ago, I sometimes wondered if, and how I would be able to share these precious slices of positive inner-city energy and culture, with my children.
So imagine my joy when I realized that, along with the staff and players of the Idaho Stampede; my experience can be re-created right here in Boise.
Since 2005, the Stampede has played at the CenturyLink Arena in Boise. The team was founded as a member of the Continental Basketball Association in 1997 and was league runner-up in the 2003–04 season, losing to the Dakota Wizards. After the 2005–06 season, the Stampede announced that the team would be joining the NBA Development League.
The Stampede's sole NBA affiliate is the Utah Jazz, with whom they have a hybrid partnership. They also had past affiliations with the Denver Nuggets, Seattle SuperSonics, Toronto Raptors and most recently the Portland Trail Blazers with the Jazz taking sole affiliation after the 2013-2014 season. In the Stampede's first D-League season, the team won the Western Division title, tying for the best record in the league.
The inner-city playground courts that gave me so many defining and formative experiences of of my youth are 2,000 miles away. But I can thank the Idaho Stampede for helping me re-experience many slices of my wonderful, urban upbringing.