Nimsins (with daughter) meets Steph Curry at Concordia Park in East Oakland after the Warriors star helped unveil a new basketball court at the park. (@nimfromthaeast/Twitter)
Leave it up to Steph Curry to fix a run-down community basketball court in East Oakland—and to do it in style.
On Tuesday afternoon at Concordia Park, a large crowd of children cheered loudly as the Warriors guard tossed alley-oops to a squad of young hoopers. While parents watched from the bleachers, Curry walked around the court, signing new shoes for many of the young people in attendance.
The occasion? A renovation of Concordia Park's run-down basketball court, made possible by Curry's philanthropy after just one tweet about the court's condition, sent from an account with about 80 followers.
Nimsins, an educator, MC and resident of East Oakland, says that it was just after the Warriors lost the finals that he got up the nerve to ask for help.
Nimsins is a hooper who uses the court regularly, and had noticed its dilapidated conditions for some time. "One of the backboards went down last year, so we were all sharing one court," he told me.
He initially tried contacting the city about the court's condition. "I called 311 so many times. I was just on hold," Nimsins said. "I got the number for a claim, and then they told me they have a backboard. Then they told me it was going to be a process. And then, the third time I called, they acted like they didn't know what I was talking about."
So, with less than 100 followers at the time, he hoisted his metaphorical half-court shot. He sent out a tweet asking for someone to come and fix the court, tagging the Warriors organization, as well as Kevon Looney, Draymond Green, Alfonzo McKinnie, Jordan Bell.
Nimsins said he was directly contacted by a number of people, from other concerned residents to Oakland's own NBA superstar Damian Lillard. But Bryant Barr, who leads Steph Curry's philanthropy group SC30 Inc., had already began the process of finding a way to help.
"He asked me to open my DMs, but I'm new to Twitter, so I didn't know what that meant!" Nimsins laughed. "For a minute I wasn’t responding, because I didn’t believe him."
After getting in contact, the two discussed design and aesthetic of the forthcoming remodel. "He sent me a pic of the artwork model, and was like, 'I have some artists in mind.' I said 'Cool, I have some artists in mind too.' "
It turned out that they were both thinking about The Illuminaries, a Bay Area-based collective of artists composed of Tim Hon, Steve Ha, and Romali Licudan, who've painted a number of courts around the US, including one last year in West Oakland at DeFremery Park. They worked with another well-known Bay Area-based artist, Kufue.
"Kufue taught me nine years ago at Fremont High School," said Nimsins, happy that the artists were local.
Within weeks, with Chase and Under Armour as sponsors, the project was done. In early August, Nimsins got a call to come down and see the court. He lives two minutes away, so it didn't take him long to see the results of his tweet.
On Tuesday, the court opened to the public, with a star-studded grand opening that included the presence of Steph Curry, Dell Curry, and the newest Curry, Canon. Photographer Devin Allen, known for his work in Baltimore during the Freddie Gray uprising, snapped photos. Community activist and former East Oakland kingpin Darryl "Lil D" Reed watched from the bleachers. Steph Curry walked around the court, signing new shoes for many of the young people in attendance.
"I used to work at Frick Middle School," said Nimsins of the school right next to the court. "All the people who pulled up, I know them personally."
And then he met Steph. "He’s a nice dude!" Nimsins said. "I didn't feel a pressure to meet him. He has a very welcoming energy."
While the park still needs some work—the grass isn't well-maintained like other parks in Oakland, and the play structure isn't somewhere Nimsins lets his young daughter play—he says once his daughter learns to walk, she'll definitely be on that court.
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