18 Sep Freestyle and streetball: the story of DaMove
I had the opportunity to meet Lorenzo Pinciroli, founder of DaMove at Court MLN, the first indoor playground in Milan, that opened the doors in summer. He related his amazing history and the birth of DaMove, the first italian crew of freestyle basketball. This is the first part of the interview we arranged in Milan. Check out the second part here!
Lorenzo Pinciroli and the love of the game
The love for the game started at the age of 12-13, there was a basketball court in my town Oleggio Castello, Novara. I won a basketball at a charity sale and I began playing, because I watched some Nba on Tv. I practiced football because, it was the only sport available in my town e for a couple of years I played in the playgrounds, because there wasn’t a basketball team in the area.
Finally with another passionate of the game, Stefano Comazzi assistant coach of Verona and former assistant coach of Torino, we convinced our parents. We took different paths, but we found a way to live by basketball. So, playground right from the beginning.
Playground, dunks and streetball
My approach is the emulation of what I saw in the tapes of Jordan, we fought for register VHS and save articles. It was the golden age of Italian basketball and I was part of a context of regular basketball. While coaches were improving the fundamental skills, I felt caged. In summer, I kept playing in the playgrounds, a real addicted, I was obsessed by the thought of the dunk, although basically I wasn’t tall.
In the afternoon, I played in the basketball courts, then football and after practice I put on hundred dunks in my hoop that I raised more and more. I trained with a team of B1 and in 2000 we won the championship. We reached the A2 with Borgomanero, then Novara. It was the golden age of tournaments, the launch of streetball and at Nike Playground League I finally met my fellowmen. Once I arrived in Piazza Castello, Milan for the first event, I saw a myriad of people that were playing and I felt like home.
White Chocolate and DaMove
In 2000, during the high school final exam, I joined the first tournament and I drifted to Viareggio with no train to come back. A disaster. I met Fabio Mastromatteo of K-lean, at dunk contest in Milan, he won the Over 19 and I got the Under 19. We were invited to the Finals in Riccione and the Organization offered us the chance to share the room. Meeting with other dunkers I thought that we couldn’t stop this thing.
We created two teams, the White Chocolate, to honor Jason Williams and DaMove. We built a group, we met at the playground refurbished by Danilo Gallinari, it was a top-flight place in Milan for those years. With the Nike Commercials of Freestyle we realized that we were doing freestyle. We were invited at summer camps and I started to say that this thing could be something more. I cut the unessential and projects meaningful for me as training, but it took a lot of time and I dedicated myself to freestyle. It was the first phase, let’s talk of 2000.
From freestyle to DaMove Freestyle Force
The first phase was between 2000 and 2005, we tried to convince others that freestyle could be everywhere, from the stages to the clubs, then we lived the hip-hop mood. We created DaMove ft. Europe, inviting other crews to the Rolling Stones, the club that launched the Club Dogo. Damove ft. Europe had a peak at the Trick of the Year in Sardinia, reproducing the idea of battle of the year, combined with basketball.
We made a battle of the year in Carloforte, a place in Sardinia, with four crews from Europe, that was the peak of the first phase. The original crew arrived over there, then there was a turnover, someone became basketball players, as Oscar Gugliotta, he was with us, then he played with Virtus Bologna. In the meantime, we came up with the idea to make a show mix that combined lifestyle and freestyle and we launched the freestyle mix that has become DaMove Freestyle Force. We were the first european crew of freestyle basketball.
Dutch, German and English players kept reproducing the Americans, instead we didn’t identify with that, we played to win. At the beginning, someone considered us “clowns”, I respect the circus performers, but it was used as a pejorative term. The second phase was the freestyle-mix challenge that has become important, because we were the first crew worlwide. We got great satisfactions, while we kept growing with the basket freestyle show.
From the Euroleague Finals to China
A climax was the Euroleague Finals in Milano. Being the official performers of Euroleague at home, was essential for the freestyle mix that mingled the two souls. We carried it on abroad, we visited 25/26 countries. Then the projects with Fiba 3×3 in Abu Dhabi, with basketball and mix in both editions. Abu Dhabi is not so far, but it is distant for culture, situations and I haven’t thought to be there for a show.
We went to China twice, I was judge of Freestyle Basketball World Championship and I played 3vs3 with a streetball legend and a former player of Chinese national team. I didn’t know their names and vice versa, but we were announced as superstars. China is so different, the school of Jiangmen is a remote place, we arrived there, we were “aliens” and nobody talked with us. Problems were everywhere, it took time to translate things, but you realize that ball has no boundaries. You understand that the kid that spins the ball, has the same smile in China, Abu Dhabi, Milan, Reggio Calabria and Copenaghen.
That’s a strong thing to figure out, a kid takes you back to reality, he is the pure human being, equal everywhere. There you get the answers to the current issues, the man who forgets of being kid, denies its origins. Probably many persuade themselves to be different from the kids they were. The kid plays with everyone, he plays with you, with a ball, the ball becomes the vehicle of dialogue and you don’t need a language.
DaMove and the Sports day in Rome
The most impressive moment is well-know, the moment when Pope Francis spun the ball. It was the 70th anniversary of CSI (Centro Sportivo Italiano), we were invited because in Rome took place the sports day with the Pope. There was the Sports Village on Via della Conciliazione and we should entertain 100 000 people. While the sports associations were walking into the square, we should perform with football and basketball. The committee of Milan called us to arrange an exhbition on via della Conciliazione and something more, waiting the Pope on St. Peter’s Square.
When they told that, I had a premonition, a sort of vision and I said “we have to interact with the Pope” and I came up with three ideas: the first one, that I discarded, a jump of Kam over the Pope, the second was an alley-oop by the Pope and the third was the Pope who spun the ball. We did the last one with many celebrities as Luca e Paolo, Claudio Bisio, Carlo Conti and Radio Deejay. Then I launched the idea, but the Organization ceased me because the exhibition was before the arrival of the Pope and it was unthinkable.
In the meantime I got a call by the CSI of Rome, because they moved us from Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter’s Square. The cerimonial establishes that if you are so lucky to honor the Pope with an exhibition, that is your greeting for him. Many don’t know that during a performance in front of the Pope, the crowd is behind, but the performer is addressed to him, because the show is a homage.
DaMove and Pope Francis
When we reached St. Peter’s Square, the Organization moved the exhibition before the Pope’s speech, we were the only ones able to perform in front of him. I told to Fabrizio Smallone: “put the pencil inside the sock and never take it off!” I brought the shiny ball that we use to spin the ball and I said: “I bring it with me and I try it right to the end”. While we were heading back satisfied, we saw the personnel that gestured us to address to the Pope.
As soon as we turned around, he was inviting us to come up, because he is the only authorized to infringe the ceremonial. We came up, I picked up the ball from the sack and while he was congratulating with us, I said “Thank you, do you want to try?” “I believe to not be able to do it.” ”No, it’s easy” We pulled out the pencil and the ball, in the sequence of pictures you can see that I am practically to my knees. I had a breakdown, it was too intense.
Emotionally, nobody of us knows, how we reached the backstage, the Pope releases something special, I felt a connection, something higher than us. I belong to a Catholic family, I am not a practicing Catholic, but there the spirituality became stronger because there is a sort of connection that I am not able to explain, this is the demonstration that there is something higher. It was a blessing for us, we were on the website of the New York City Times, that picture was the icon of the day.
It was very intense for me, because we are Italian and it is hard to understand what we do. In the past people used to ask me: “when will you stop to play?” “when will you find a job?”. This thing indirectly hit my parents that instead have always supported me and said “Go your own way!”
This episode was a consecration from the Holy Father, because those people changed idea. I performed in 20 countries, but the Pope is something above, so strong that everybody feels it.