I hadn’t thought about AND1 for a long time until I saw the title “Untold: The Rise and Fall of AND1.” The start of the documentary establishes its primary function as we hear the AND1 announcer himself Duke Tango narrate:
“This is where it’s at. It’s New York City. Street basketball. This is our culture. This is what we do, B. This is our job. Yo, back in the day, it was like a big block party. The atmosphere, the energy. It was just special. But AND1, they just took it to another level. Tokyo, Japan. Venezuela. Brazil. You know, it was pandemonium. AND1? They had the best ballplayers in street basketball. And the best players get the best names. Like Skip 2 My Lou. The Main Event. Shane, The Dribbling Machine. We talking about Hot to the Sauce. We talking about The Professor. A lot of people today say, ‘Whatever happened to AND1?’ I don’t know what happened to it. And I was a part of it.”
From there we spend a lot of time going through the history and the build up of AND1. It wasn’t the overnight success some remember it to be, but that could also be geographical. It does start in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. That’s my neck of the woods. When I was in high school and college I saw the growth of the brand all around me.
I wasn’t the biggest basketball fanatic, but this documentary intrigued me for one main reason. When you’re confronted with a brand that you once saw often, you immediately have a gut reaction of, “yeah, whatever happened to those guys?”
At the turn of the century, you couldn’t ignore AND1. And this documentary leads you to the precipice of the answer to what happened, but it doesn’t leave you fulfiulled. As a nostalgia filled romp of what AND1 was, this is great, but it becomes very fuzzy, like an old VHS tape, when it comes down to pinpointing the end.
Is it because the egos got too big? That’s a possibility.
Is it because NIKE took a shot at them? It’s related.
Is it because the founders sold the brand? Very likely.
But the filmmakers don’t narrow it down to one thing. They allow you to make your own case by presenting you with facts from a few perspectives. I think that’s extremely novel. It’s unique. Most documentaries set out to definitely answer a question. This one shows you evidence but doesn’t really lead you to anything one singular conclusion, unless that result is, “yes, all of it – the EGOS, NIKE, and Corporations did in the AND1 brand.”
I remember the Mixtapes. I remember AND1 before it became a video game and a co-branding conspirator with ESPN and Mountain Dew. For me this was a look back on what had been. It doesn’t really explain what became of it in a way that I found fulfilling, but perhaps that’s just the truth of the matter.
Perhaps there isn’t one single shot that was the dagger into the heart of the brand. I mean it still exists, it just isn’t what it was, and maybe that’s what the documentary is trying to tell us.
If it interests you, and also find yourself asking, “Yeah, whatever happened to AND1?,” then it’s probably worth you 69 minutes to watch it. Enjoy the nostalgia and a few choice exhibits from the founders and players in their own words as to how it all started and why it isn’t anymore.