In the early ’90s, my life was consumed with newness and change. Fresh styles. Clean kicks. A changing of the guard that fit my lifestyle and represented me.
My interests were simple — sports and rap. My aesthetic was formed through these dual focuses. The NBA was my thing, and just as I had two main interests, NBA teams were all about building on a superstar duo. We all knew Scottie and Mike. Malone and Stockton were becoming a known power. But, as my musical taste and fashion focus was shifting, there was also potential in the league for a bold set of rising stars. The era of NBA jam, duos were the JAM.
Charlotte had Larry Johnson (who was awarded Rookie of the Year) and Alonzo Mourning. New Jersey, the brash New York point guard Kenny Anderson and a multifaceted power forward named Derrick Coleman.
The Nets were my go-to squad on video games. I could drive. I could shoot the three. I could take Coleman inside and out. Plus, they had uniforms that were hard to ignore. Though I can never remember exactly when, they wore tie dye. Tie Dye! Ridiculous.
Aside from the tanks and shorts, I remember the footwear. Particularly on Coleman. British Knights. Dymacel technology. It was cooler than react juice, hextalite, air. Diamonds! Way before all that nattering by Swizz Beatz, British Knights had rocks on lock.
Combining new technology with hip-hop swagger, the Coleman British Knights deal fused my interests. Sure, the AF1 and certain Fila models were big on road, but here was (in my mind) the road coming to the court. And, with proper styling. British Knights paid Coleman a cool $10 mill in ’92. That was hip-hop too. Being young, looking fly, getting money.
This changed my view of what sponsorship could be. Crossing over, not just markets, but activities.
British Knights, in my memory, was all about Coleman, diamonds and hip-hop. Before Iverson, that was the merger. And before another Syracuse forward, John Wallace, tried to work a street brand into the league (Karl Kani), Coleman and British Knights set the bar.