The NBA Cup created an exciting opportunity for basketball creators. The brand-new In-Season Tournament concluded on December 9, but before it did, creators like Jesser, Tristan Jass, and Bree Green participated in a five-on-five showdown headlined by hoops-happy influencers.
The In-Season Tournament Creator Cup was filmed behind closed doors on December 8. The next day, hours before the NBA Cup final tipped off, the association uploaded a Creator Cup highlight reel on its official YouTube channel. The “Hoopers” squad, coached by 2HYPE‘s Kris London, defeated Coach Chris Matthews‘ “Ballers” in a dramatic comeback win.
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Players on the winning team included Jass, Green, and Jesser (real name Jesse Riedel). Both Jass and Green (as well as Coach London) are affiliated with Long Haul Management, which has forged connections between the NBA and basketball creators by focusing on tentpole events like the NBA Finals, NBA All-Star Weekend, and the new In-Season Tournament. Beyond their participation in the Creator Cup, London and Green also engaged with NBA fans by joining a Threads watch-along activation during the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals.
The variety of influencers featured in the Creator Cup reflected the changing nature of sports content creation. The participating amateurs went up against former college basketball players like Jeremy Jones and Anthony Hamilton, Jr. The man known as “Ant” is one of the ballers who has partnered with Viral Nation to help translate his hoops passion into a sustainable career as a content creator. With name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals becoming more commonplace, college athletes are embracing social media like never before.
The growing community of basketball influencers is good news for the NBA, and the world’s top hoops league supported some creators by giving them all-access looks at the first NBA Cup finals. One person who got a look behind the scenes was Jesser; the man at the forefront of basketball YouTube teamed with Instagram to share an inside look at the IST.