Into the void caused by Jordan’s (second) retirement in 1998 and the lockout-induced delay of the 98-99 NBA season sprung what’s arguably the second most powerful rectangle in basketball history other than the actual court itself: The AND1 Mixtape. If you were born in this century, no one will blame you for being flummoxed by the entire VHS concept but this singular black plastic brick made basketball history. It went well and truly viral before going viral was even a thing!

The AND1 Mixtape wasn’t just for the culture. It was the culture, combining quintessential elements of hip hop like rapping, DJing and break dancing with the entertainment of streetball and its own form of MCing, the on-court announcer. It’s impact on the American basketball(-savy) community was outdone only by the influence the series had on hoopers all around the world.

Founded by three students of the University of Pennsylvania, AND1 became more than a sports brand in the late 90s and early 00s. Spearheaded by the eponymous Mixtape Tour that quickly established itself everywhere from cities across the US to courts all around the world and ESPN, the brand and the streetball players at the forefront of its marketing efforts became a flaming hot phenomenon.

The popularity of AND 1 was instant. It was overnight.

The Professor

The latest episode of Netflix’ series Untold – which is highly recommendable in its own right – covers The Rise and Fall of AND1. Aside from mellifluous tidbits like Vince Carter essentially wearing the Tai Chi for free in the most striking Slam Dunk Contest performance of all time, the 1-hour documentary covers the meteoric rise of the company, the crucial role of the Mixtapes, and the equally meteoric downfall of AND1 after its three founders sold the company in 2005.

While there is no doubt about the importance of the players for the success of the movement, the documentary leaves the question of whether the streetball stars were adequately compensated up in the air. Instead, the film makers offer different perspectives from the three founders as well as various takes from crucial players like Hot Sauce, Main Event, Shane The Dribbling Machine, The Professor, – and of course – Skip To My Lou.

Untold: The Rise and Fall of AND1 is now streaming streaming on Netflix.

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