The idea came to me one evening when I was playing basketball with my younger brother, Nicholas. I joked about needing a shirt that said 'Bucket', so that everyone around me would know that I was a Bucket on the basketball court. For anyone that may not know, 'Bucket' is a prestigious label given to someone who can score the ball efficiently and in entertaining ways. A great example would be Kevin Durant. He's a Certified Bucket. Simply put, everybody wants to be known as a Bucket.
This idea reminded me of a shirt I once saw someone wearing at a basketball showcase. It said 'Gym Rat', which in basketball terms means someone who spends so much time training that you might think they live in the gym. I remember thinking that it was a really cool shirt, because that player was able to confidently express that he took his craft seriously. Gym Rats are rightfully placed on a pedestal, so I'm sure he was proud to be seen as one. But despite how interesting I thought this shirt was at only a single glance, I never really saw one like it again. There was no existing basketball clothing that aimed to simply and effectively describe the greatest attributes about the player wearing it. Nike and a few other brands do this to some extent, but not in the self-assertive and straightforward way that I had envisioned based on what appealed to me as a high-level player.
As a kid, I used to write 'buckets' on the tongue of my shoes to serve as a reminder that I needed to get buckets. I trained with the goal of getting buckets, so connecting to this message helped me trust that my training would carry me through any obstacle. Whenever I made a mistake or found myself having a rough game, I would refer to the message I wrote on my shoes as a way of grounding myself and refocusing my mindset. I know of many other basketball players that have personal mantras that they repeat to themselves in a similar fashion. These mantras often represent the common theme of believing in yourself and the abilities that you've worked so hard to master. With that being said, it only made sense that outwardly expressing these basketball mantras through clothing could connect deeply with players.
I learned during my 14 years playing basketball that the players who believe in themselves seem to create the most opportunities on the court. Lack of confidence leads to hesitation in decision making, which ultimately leads to lackluster results in such a fast-paced sport. My teammates nicknamed me 'Confidence' later in my university career, because I was at my best during times when I was overly confident in my abilities. Truthfully, it takes a lot of confidence in yourself to wear a shirt that says 'Bucket' on it. You're telling the court that you get buckets, so there's an expectation for you to deliver on that statement. Wearing this shirt will not make you a better basketball player on its own. However, similar to the message I wrote on my shoes, it can reinforce your belief that you can get buckets by serving as a grounding mechanism that empowers you to freely play your game. Assuming you've put in the work, your shirt can provide you with that extra boost of confidence required to make plays and put up numbers.
I was a guest on the Four Quarters Media podcast, where host Tyler Bennet helped coin the term 'the language of basketball' to describe the umbrella of words and phrases that align with our brand. The language of basketball has existed in the culture for a long time, and is constantly adapting. If you consume basketball content on social media, you'll notice people describing the game through this same dictionary of words that are repeated over and over in the comments: 'She's got Clamps.' 'He's a Certified Bucket.' 'They're Just Built Different.' Not to mention all those with 'Loading…' in their bios. The language is spoken and understood across the basketball community. Our clothing uses the language of basketball to express meaningful attributes about the player wearing it.
In high school, I had a bright red Nike shirt that said 'Mr. Clutch' on it. I wore it all the time, despite not really having an emotional connection to being called Clutch, like I had with the word Buckets. I would've traded this shirt for a hoopn Bucket shirt in a heartbeat, because 'Bucket' spoke to me on a much deeper level than 'Mr. Clutch' did. I probably would've also traded it for that Gym Rat shirt, because like most players, I would've loved to be recognized for all those hours I spent perfecting my jump shot. This belief gave me confidence that this brand could be successful as long as I could offer a wide library of basketball terms so that every type of player could find at least one shirt that resonates with their journey. Bucket, Clamps, Sharpshooter, Built Different, Loading, Heart Over Hype, Hustler, No Days Off, Never Satisfied, Bet on Myself… The list goes on.
I'm all too familiar with the sacrifices basketball players make, as well as the mental challenges that high level players battle on a daily basis. Using the language of basketball, I want to empower players to believe in their abilities and represent themselves with confidence. My experiences and love for the game give me confidence in the brand that I'm building. A basketball clothing brand that allows players to represent various aspects of their game - their abilities, their mindset, their aura, and ultimately their identity - through an assertive statement stamped across the chest. The language of basketball, designed to hoop in.