The LBC gym where Snoop “shot my first layup” got a new look featuring comic book-inspired artwork throughout. Boardroom was on-site with the two legends for the reveal.
After catching a bounce lob in the key and throwing down a two-handed reverse dunk with his “summer legs,” Stephen Curry was surrounded by smiles, cheers, and dancing from dozens of local kids in Long Beach, California, capping off the unveiling of a brand-new basketball gym at the Boys & Girls Club at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
It marked the first chapter of an extensive new partnership between the Golden State Warriors star, his Curry Brand, and Long Beach’s very own Snoop Dogg. The pair poured resources and effort into donating a revamped, upgraded basketball court where kids could hoop for decades to come.
“This is the place where I learned how to play basketball, play football, be active in the community, and build relationships,” Snoop Dogg said on the occasion. “It’s where I learned how to rap, talk, and just be me, basically – in this park right here. To come back and see the kids doing different things, trying to be better than we were, that’s what it’s all about.”
Initially, 70 kids gathered at the Boys & Girls Club for what they thought would be a morning skills camp. They got the surprise of a lifetime when both Curry and Snoop entered the building. The duo offered a welcome message before kicking off six stations of drills.
“We want to provide a space where you can come enjoy yourself and get lost in the fun, lost in the competition, invest in yourselves, and be around a lot of amazing coaches and programs,” Curry told the kids.
A series of superhero and comic-book-inspired murals from Batman & Robin and Black Panther comic artist Damion Scott line the entirety of the gym. The trio of Curry, Scott, and Snoop all rocked customized Curry 4 Flotro sneakers that incorporated the artwork along the upper.
The blue and yellow graphics feature Curry, Martin Luther King Jr., and young athletes playing a variety of sports. Outside the gym, a mural pushes the kids to “Find your inner superhero.”
Scott, who has lived in both New York and Tokyo over the past two decades, said the detailed painting took ten days to finalize.
“It blew my mind. It’s beautiful,” beamed Snoop. “It feels good, it looks good, and it’s something that the kids can aspire to and say, ‘we have something that’s ours and we can come in here and play when we feel like it.’
“There’s a timeless aspect to it too,” added Curry.
Along with the MLK portrait that overlooks center court, the names of several of Snoop’s childhood friends and family that he played with and learned from at the gym are inscribed into the artwork. One of his first teammates and lifelong friends, “Warren G,” is lettered into the sideline wall, while the nod to “Charlie Moe” honors his late cousin who taught them both the game of basketball at a young age.
After reflecting on the personal touches throughout, Snoop instantly remembered one of his earliest hoop memories.
“When I played for the King Park Bumble Bees in 1980. We was playing against Silverado Park, and I think I scored like five or six points,” he said with a laugh.
While most of the kids on hand were elementary school-aged, a few dozen rising high school stars, some even towering at 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8, held down their own station. It didn’t take long for Curry to check ball and try and test each of the teenagers’ isolation skills.
“When you get in this environment, it’s just natural,” the two-time NBA MVP laughed. “I didn’t plan on getting out there.”
“You locked up about 50 kids,” Snoop said. “In a row!”
As they continued to shift from drill station to station, throwing passes to kids, guarding the rim during layup lines, and guiding younger players dribbling to half court, Snoop thought back to his childhood, when he got to see a future Super Bowl champion up close.
“I remember in 1979, Doug Williams came to visit us,” he said of the quarterback who’d later win MVP honors at Super Bowl XXII in LA. “That inspired a whole bunch of us, and I can think about everybody that came out of that, that became successful, just because we were right next to somebody that we dreamed of being like.”
Now, he’s hoping they’ll have that same level of impact on the local kids on hand for the court unveiling and the generations of kids that’ll have access to the gym going forward.
“To be able to come back to my community and show these little kids that they can dream, too,” said Snoop. “They dream of being like Steph and dream of being like me.”
“When kids feel like they’re seen and cared for, they respond,” Curry said.