The latest edition of the widely-popular basketball video game NBA Live, NBA Live 19, pays homage to the rich culture of basketball all around the world by including several courts from different countries in the game, including one that would be familiar to hoop fans in the Philippines.
The beautifully-painted basketball court stands in stark contrast to the drab and abandoned buildings in the Fort Bonifacio Tenement Building in Taguig. While the buildings may look dreary and dejected, the court within has long been the beating heart of the community.
The building itself was first built as a housing project in the ’60s by the former President Diosdado Macapagal. With the love Filipinos have for basketball, it was only a matter of time before a space in the complex was set aside for a communal basketball court. The blacktop was so iconic throughout the years that it became synonymous to the place and its community, becoming affectionately known as “The Tenement”.
Much like every other community in the Philippines, the basketball court was a place where children, teenagers, and adults alike mingle by either watching or playing in pickup games that would play out from the morning until late at night.
In 2014, however, the National Housing Authority sought to evict all of the Tenement residents, claiming the buildings were prone to earthquakes and overall unsafe. While the complex itself has been mostly abandoned since, people still flocked to the court as if nothing ever happened.
The community’s devotion to the game and to the court they play on would eventually pay off when some of the game’s biggest stars would grace their humble court.
When the Nike RISE Tour kicked off in Manila back in 2015, the then-Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George stepped onto the blacktop and played some streetball with the residents.
In the Nike RISE Tour the following year, no less a figure than the three-time NBA Champion LeBron James graced the court, left his handprint for posterity, and was even honored with a mural depicting his likeness on it.
Just wanna inspire and influence as many people in this 🌎 as possible while I live! S/O to all my fans in the Philippines 🇵🇭 for this mural as well as all the other countries around that allow myself to be an INSPIRATION to the youth and beyond! Thanks you!! 🙏🏾 👑#striveforgreatness🚀 #livelaughlove❤️ #promiseiwontstop👊🏾
The Nike RISE Tours have been instrumental in not only bringing basketball superstars to the Tenement, but also in spreading awareness of its importance to the community. Nike, for its part, has pledged to help rehabilitate the historic court, according to a Facebook post by hip-hop personality Mike Swift, one of its ardent supporters.
The footwear company has even released a line of basketball shoes inspired by the Tenement, the Nike Hyperdunk 2017.
But perhaps the most fitting tribute to the iconic court would come from LeBron James himself, who knows a thing or two about coming from humble beginnings to rise to greatness.
“Visited this amazing place in Manila today […] This basketball court is its heart and soul, and if it weren’t for basketball giving the kids a distraction from the bad influences around them the state would tear it down. Honored to have my likeness grace this space,” said James in Instagram post.
You can play on NBA Live 19’s version of the Tenement Court when the game releases on September 7 this year, with a free demo coming out on August 24.
(Photos courtesy of Nike)