Legendary Canadian Streetball Collective, The Notic, Reunites

The opening night of “Handle With Care: The Legend of The Notic Streetball Crew” is Friday, Oct. 8 at VIFF.  

The court under the Cambie Street Bridge was most likely the last location you’d anticipate to see streetball royalty on this scorching July day in Vancouver, Canada. Luxury glass highrise condominiums surrounded the court. Cyclists and middle-aged females with toy poodles passed backward and forward along the surrounding boardwalk. On one hoop, a weekend warrior with a knee brace and AirPods plays solo, tossing up bricks.

But simply off to the side, the band was returning together. One by one, members of The Notic—the famous Canadian streetball team that dropped both protectors and jaws throughout Van City—began to drip in. First it was Disaster; then came David Dazzle; then Johnny Blaze; then Delight, WhereYouAt and the rest of the team. The daps, the jokes, the love were all caught by Kirk Thomas and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux, the really exact same two-man movie team that had actually recorded them almost twenty years previously.

Last to show up on the scene was and is the mightiest baller of them all: King Handles. Yes, the King Handles.

“Oh, look at this guy!” hollers Johnny Blaze, aka Jonathan Mubanda, as King Handles was identified on the horizon.

Walking up with swagger, leaked out in his own KH clothes line, King Handles flashed his Magic Johnson-watt smile as the team accepted him like they were at their 20-year high school reunion. Mid-handshake, King Handles, aka Joey Haywood, rapidly measured a now grown Disaster, aka Rory Grace (the youngest of the team and the sole white gamer), and let fond memories get the very best of him.

“Hey, we gonna play one-on-one or what?” 

“Sure man, let’s go!”

Sixteen years earlier, this really exact same play ground worked as the background to among The Notic’s specifying minutes. After 2 effective mixtapes—The Notic  and The Notic 2—revealed them doing shit even the AND1 felines weren’t doing, the world began to take notification. 

In 2005, SLAM ventured up North to profile The Notic in SLAM provides Streetball, Vol. 3. The story consisted of a renowned pictorial under the Cambie Street Bridge with Vancouver’s signature grey skies. The shot now appears like a time pill, as half a lots members were curtained in baggy fits, rocking 2000s period brand names like Sean John and Enyce.    

Even though they used grimaces in the picture, The Notic happily indulged in their newly found popularity. They cleared every concern from 7-11 racks. They signed a couple of autographs and stunted around town. They savored the idea that individuals in New York, Tokyo and Paris check out them and understood their names.

“If you ain’t never been in SLAM, you never made it,” states Johnny Blaze matter-of-factly, as the unscripted individually video game in between King Handles and Disaster played out in the background. 

“To get validation from SLAM? That doesn’t happen out here,” includes Blaze’s bro David Mubanda, aka David Dazzle.

The reunion was being shot for an approaching documentary about The Notic that’s slated to premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October. As the team positioned to recreate that renowned SLAM image, their clothing were more fitted and the young boys were now males. Most of their basketball professions were long in the rearview, however they came together a last time to finish their mixtape trilogy and inform the world their story, about how a group of misfits produced a design of basketball that was hidden at the time in Canada and beyond. And has actually not been seen considering that.

It began at Hoop It Up.

The year was 2001, and the well known three-on-three international competition was being hosted at Vancouver’s Science World. With cams in tow, 2 good friends and amateur filmmakers, Thomas and Schaulin-Rioux, were shooting a random video game for enjoyable when they discovered a rowdy crowd forming around a nearby court.

“And then we went over and saw Joey’s game,” states Thomas. “It was nothing like we had ever seen before in Vancouver and immediately knew that we stumbled upon something special.”

There they were, a group of teens with style, placing on an exhibit with ludicrous manages and pennies. There was Goosebumps, drawing oohs with an innovative backhanded dribble; King Handles striking powerless protectors with lightning fast, five-dribble combinations as if he were a golden gloves fighter; Dazzle enthralling the crowd with his inebriated master design of dribbling. The Notic would get the Rucker Park treatment, with fans hurrying the court whenever they went SportsCenter on their challengers.  

“We just had this synergy whenever we played together,” states Mohammed Wenn, aka Goosebumps. “We liked to play to the crowd, because we never really got that attention playing in our high school games.”

“It was just the fun of playing with your friends because we all went to different high schools around Vancouver,” includes Jermaine “J-Fresh” Foster, who had manages and might periodically put you on a poster. “Honestly, we felt like little rock stars.”

Even with direct exposure to the NBA in Van City (the Grizzlies were still in the area), the design of basketball in regional high school and college health clubs was conservative. Coaches desired principles over flash. Members of The Notic, who were primarily first-generation Canadians and immigrants, replicated the Shammgods, the Iversons and the Skips. They were castaways in standard, let’s call it what it is, “white” basketball circles. The understanding of them and their design had racial undertones. One youth coach informed King Handles to drop the “jungle ball.”  

But jointly, they discovered approval and brotherhood. “When we got together, we had no coaches, nobody telling us what to do,” states King Handles. “We could be who we were.”

“We felt basketball coaches rejected us, so we kind of said, To hell with that, and did our own thing,” Goosebumps includes. 

Weeks after Hoop It Up, Schaulin-Rioux and Thomas presented themselves to the team at the Whalley Rec Centre. The Notic, who in truth were much bigger than the Hoop It Up team, accepted be recorded. Influenced by ’90s underground skateboarding videos, the filmmakers had each baller perform a solo area.

“They each took a turn freestyling, almost like a DJ battle,” states Schaulin-Rioux. “And then, all of a sudden, we’re seeing these guys do [moves] with these handles that we’d never seen anyone do, not even the AND1 guys.”

Mixing the freestyle shoots with  assembled rough open run video, the manufacturers embellished the mixtape with underground hip-hop tracks from artists like Jurassic 5, graffiti text overlays and creative graphics, packaged into old Blockbuster Video cases. The Notic was produced in 2001. The uber-popular follow up, The Notic 2, was launched a couple of years later on with more difficult music and more advanced relocations. Since it was the early 2000s, Thomas and Schaulin-Rioux marketed the trailer on streetball message boards online. It wasn’t long up until they were getting cash orders for the VHS mixtape from Poland to Japan and all over the world.

“Social media didn’t even exist back then. It’s crazy to think what could have been if there was that avenue to get it out there,” states Disaster.

Their legend just grew when the mainstream got word. When the AND1 Mixtape Tour made a drop in neighboring Seattle in ’02, The Notic didn’t squander the chance. Disaster, who was 15 at the time, appeared like a cross in between Jason “White Chocolate” Williams and Lil Bow Wow as he danced with the rock, nutmegging protectors consistently while ESPN cams rolled. Clips of King Handles crossing up Headache immediately raised The Notic’s trustworthiness. 

“I knew from that point we could take our talent around the world and hold our own against anyone,” King Handles states.

But even if they might hang with the AND1 people didn’t suggest they were earning money like them. In that period, Canadians were still ignored and mainly maintained North. Even around the time of the SLAM function, the members were beginning to proceed from streetball. They were growing older, costs needed to be paid, and quickly they would be beginning households and genuine 9-5 professions.

“It was all a dream!” Dazzle states in his finest Biggie voice, recollecting about The Notic’s peak. 

And then, it simply vanished.

After all the prestige King Handles acquired from streetball fizzled, he shelved his play ground personality and transitioned to arranged hoops. He balled out at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, leading the country in scoring in 2011 prior to starting a decade-long basketball odyssey, bouncing around 2nd tier professional leagues in Canada, Denmark and Iceland. Through an opportunity welcome to a three-on-three competition in Japan in 2016, where The Notic tradition is strong, his fire for streetball was reignited. Shortly after, his Instagram exploded and King Handles had the ability to acquire a cult following half a world away in Asia. 

Much of King Handles’ 2nd act was caught by his youth good friend and filmmaker, Ryan Sidhoo, who has actually made a set of brief documentaries about the play ground legend.

When Sidhoo was producing those docs, he had actually gone to Schaulin-Rioux and Thomas for archival video. When the trio lastly fulfilled personally at a three-on-three competition in Toronto in 2019, the concept of teaming up on a revival task on The Notic acquired momentum.

“The Notic really changed my life, and I’m so proud of those tapes and that crew, but I always look back with regret that it died out unfinished,” states Schaulin-Rioux. “For Kirk and I, finishing this story feels like a weight lifting off those memories, and what’s left is just the moves, the tapes and especially the brotherhood.”

The movie will likewise concentrate on the long-awaited conclusion of The Notic 3, the last installation in the trilogy. Schaulin-Rioux has hours of unreleased video—both from the early days and an unreleased documentary he shot of King Handles in ’07, when Haywood very first started his professional basketball profession.

“If you take basketball out of it, you have a group of outcasts and misfits who went on to leave their mark and legacy, not only on their sport, but also the culture of a city,” states Sidhoo, the manufacturer of the upcoming documentary. “It’s beautiful that they’re still being celebrated years later.”

Reuniting The Notic was not precisely as made complex as the Fresh Prince reunion unique. There is no bad blood, and the majority of the members are still linked. Many have households and thriving 2nd professions now. Andrew “6Fingaz” Liew, who had Stephen Curry-type variety (and yes, 6 fingers on his left shooting hand) owns an effective building and style business. J-Fresh is a popular, regional hip-hop DJ who has actually spun in significant clubs in Brazil and L.A. The bros, Dazzle and Blaze, are renaissance males meddling realty and neighborhood work.   

And naturally, there’s King Handles, who has actually handled to remain appropriate in the streetball world and works as a basketball fitness instructor. But rather of hate or jealousy from his team, there is absolutely nothing however love and gratitude. Again, this is household.

“The thing about King is he kept us alive, kept reppin’ us in whatever he did,” states Blaze. “He doesn’t have to do it, but that is who he is. But that’s all of us though. We represent each other everywhere we go and we help each other even to this day.”

For as precious as King Handles is today and just how much The Notic’s name still sounds bells around Vancouver, they were most likely ahead of their time. Maybe if Instagram and YouTube were around at that time, or Canadian basketball gamers were as appreciated as they are now, there may have been more college scholarships, sponsorship chances and even the NBA in King Handles’ case.  

But the movie picks to concentrate on the what was versus the what ifs. At its core, this is a human story that offers flowers to the underdogs.

“We were young legends,” concludes Goosebumps. “We were so raw and spontaneous and when we came together, we were this unstoppable force.”

Portraits Patrick Giang/Victory Creative Group.

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