By Yepoka Yeebo
MANHATTAN — NBA superstars Kevin Durant and Rajon Rondo will be hitting the streets of Manhattan this weekend as the World Basketball Festival takes the city by storm starting Thursday night. Jay-Z will be the opening act for the World Basketball Festival's exhibition game at Radio City Music Hall at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The four-day festival will feature national teams from China, Puerto Rico, France and Brazil, as well as a U.S. national team filled with NBA superstars. Derek Rose, Danny Granger and Stephon Curry will also play for Team USA. The national teams will square off in Madison Square Garden after holding open-air scrimmage sessions on a hardwood court built specifically for the occasion in Harlem's Rucker Park.
The Rucker court will be the first to be donated to a community center as part of Nike's collaboration with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and the New York City Housing Authority. The groups plan to build new basketball courts and refurbish old ones at 25 community centers around the city. Nike also teamed up with Jay-Z to design a collection of sneakers called "Air Force Ones" to commemorate this year's festival. Five limited edition pairs will be auctioned off on eBay to raise money for Jay-Z's Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation.
The U.S. team will use the festival get ready for the 2010 FIBA Basketball Championship games in Turkey at the end of August. “We're thrilled with the opportunity to bring the energy and excitement of USA Basketball's men's national team to fans and give them a way to celebrate," said Jerry Colangelo, chair of USA Basketball. Team USA will play France at Madison Square Garden at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The World Basketball Festival, which runs from Aug. 12-15, will also sponsor championship games for summer basketball leagues citywide.