David Dazzle – Freestyle Legend with a Basketball Mind
David Dazzle – A Basketball Mind Created a Freestyle Legend
I feel truly honored to have been able to do an interview with David Dazzle. He and the Notic truly shaped much of the way you think of freestyle today. He was part of a movement that permanently cemented things like creativity, original moves, and filming outdoors in cool locations into the freestyle basketball culture. But at the heart of him was always a true basketball player.
He now appears to have moved away from freestyling and streetball flair in favor of his first true love of basketball with his Advanced Basics basketball training partnership with Joey “King Handles” Haywood. Be sure to check their website, follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook and check out their insightful content on YouTube.
As for this interview, well for a huge Notic and David Dazzle fan like myself it is interesting to hear some of the stories and motivations behind the creation of a legendary player and crew. If you’re new to freestyle, streetball, or just a diehard basketball fan this interview is a must read.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, it is a pleasure to have you featured on my website David. Let’s jump right into things.
First things first, for those who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are your from? When did you start playing basketball?
I was born in East Africa, Uganda – more people became aware of it when Last King of Scotland hit theaters – and moved to BC when I was 6. Like most kids growing up in my era I played everything, but began taking ball seriously during summer of grade 5 or 6 when my cousin told me I sucked and probably wouldn’t make the team in high school. That’s when I began putting in five hour days in my basement. I wanted to improve in secret so I could go out and break his ankles. At the end of summer I earned his respect but found out that I had gotten so much better and since then I was hooked. Before that, ball was ball. After that, ball was life.
How did you get the nickname Dazzle?
I had to work really hard to gain quickness so when I started playing I studied the game and thought through moves step by step. That way I could break them down and make them look good without having to rely on speed, but to take advantage of a defender’s instinct. The first Hoop It Up 3-on-3 tournament where some Notic footage was filmed – the year before the Notic started – people were calling me “Professor” and this was before And1 had their own. But someone said “David Dazzle” and it stuck.
How did you get into streetball and freestyling?
I used to go to Hastings Community Centre circa 1993, and everyone there played hard aggressive ball but with an emphasis on dominating your opponent. Yeah you could score but the idea was to do it in such a way that made your defender want nothing to do with you after the game was through. To be honest, me and J.O. were learning lessons from older cats while in grade school long before we started teaching. It wasn’t streetball to us, it was ball. Either you could bang or you watched from the sidelines. We didn’t know we were getting into anything, we just showed up and hooped. Looking back I now see that I grew up with some sick ball players who helped mold the “streetball” aspect of my game.
Same goes for freestyling – it was done by accident. If we were waiting to get in on a run we would work on our ball handling skills instead of sitting around, and we’d play our own version of dribbling horse. Then when I got my first indoor top flight leather ball, I learned to roll. Every time I was waiting for the bus, I couldn’t dribble so I would roll the ball and find cool ways to control it. But as soon as it was game time none of that showed up – well not for a while at least.
The truth of the matter is, what we did in our personal practice time to improve our ball control skills on the court is what ended up being streetball/freestyling – but we had no idea. We were just playing ball.
Who have been your major inspirations in freestyle, streetball and basketball?
Since it was accidental for me I never looked up to anyone freestyle wise, but I saw Trickz and liked what he was doing. As far as streetball, Skip and all the EBC legends. I remember wearing out that tape getting ready for our first Hoop It Up knowing we were about to do something that hadn’t been done in BC, and I guess we were somewhat successful. My favourite ball player has always been Isaiah Thomas. Love what he did on the court, his tenacity, and not only his skill but his game IQ.
How did the whole Notic crew come about?
I believe the producers of the tape, Jeremy and Kirk, were talking to King Handles and they asked him if he knew any other ball players who could do what he did. Joey used to do this cross over that was insane; it was one of the only few moves I ever broke down and considered un-guardable. He passed Goosebumps’ info onto them and since Goose was in our crew we all met up and even shot the Notic 1 freestyles on the same day if I remember it right. A bunch of young kids and a camera – who knew?
Do you still have contact with the other guys from the Notic? Do they still play?
I don’t talk to everyone directly but we all check up on each other. We all play at different levels but everyone can still hoop. What most people don’t know is that most of us played on successful high school teams. The Notic was something we did as an outlet to organized ball where we couldn’t always express ourselves to extent of our talents. So people tend to be surprised when we pick and roll or hedge screens and run backdoor cuts.
What’s it like knowing you have made a major impact on many modern freestylers and streetballers play?
I believe it’s an honour when you can have an impact on anything – so to know that I could inspire someone is very humbling. I am grateful that there are people out there who appreciate the effort I put into the game, because there are so many amazing ballers out there that we will never see.
What do you think of the modern streetball and freestyle scene? Do you watch videos on Youtube of it? If yes are there any people that stand out to you?
I was talking with someone a while back and they made a good observation: streetball as it used to be before And1 is vastly different from what it is today. Streetball used to simply mean a more braggadocious brand of ball – the rules of organized ball still applied. When we played in-game our goal was to make sure we bent those rules but didn’t break them. Now it has evolved, and possibly needs to be redefined so it can be better appreciated. I love the confidence required to go mano a mano with someone who is trying to embarrass you so bad your mama won’t let you in the house until you handle business. Sadly I think streetball is going away from that. Every once in a while I look up freestylers on YouTube, but not many stand out, not to say their skills aren’t good because some of them are off the chain. It just seems that not many have taken what other people do and adapted it into their own style.
So you’re one of the Legend Judges for the 2013 Snake Freestyle Basketball Contest. What are you expecting to see and what will it take to earn your vote?
I have had the opportunity to hang out with some of Japan’s sickest freestylers. I played with some of the most amazing ball handlers. So usually when I watch a freestyle I can predict where the ball is going for the next couple of moves. So to me, the person who shows excellent ball control, including some dribbling, and moves the ball at some point in such a way that it doesn’t make sense with the flow that they are in – I will be impressed. Change of speed – pauses – use of space – misdirection. With how freestyle is going I would compare it to being a good magician. Can you tell a story that wows me without using words that makes me ask – how did you do that?
Ok, last Notic question, and one I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, but I have to ask so we can put it to rest. Will there be a Notic 3?
I know that there is some footage that I haven’t even seen – even moves that have yet to be done. But a Notic 3? I can’t answer that. We all just have to wait and see.
So it looks like you and Joey Haywood a.k.a. King Handles have started a basketball training business called Advanced Basics. How did this come about?
Last summer Joey and I were talking about how we approached the game. We found that not only did we have similar views, but that our experience in streetball and organized ball gave us a knowledge base that not many people have. So we decided it would great if we could impact skill development in Canada in a major way.
What is Advanced Basics goal for the players it trains?
You know how coaches ask “What were you thinking?” Well our goal is to create mentally tough players who understand the details that make up the entire picture. That way no matter where they play they can have a reason for their actions, making it easier for coaches to help them improve. Because if you understand why your athlete is doing something you can help them improve on it or change it if need be.
Who do you plan on training? Are you mainly focusing on local player, all over the world and/or online?
Our focus is on team and/or group training over the long term in BC. As we continue to grow we will provide more training tools that athletes can access on line. We also offer our training services to camps and clinics world wide
What is your major goal for Advanced Basics as a whole?
Our goal for Advanced Basics is to be considered one of the industry leaders in overall player development.
Are you involved with anything else in basketball right now in terms of training or playing?
I currently coach, because I want to understand how skills development and strength and conditioning are viewed from a coaching standpoint.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Talent is not always easily recognized but passion can be seen from a mile away. “Your whole heart beats your half ass any day” (Martin Rooney). So do whatever you do so well that you inspire others to follow in your footsteps.
Thanks again for your time David Dazzle, I know you’ve been a huge inspiration on me personally, and a lot of other players as well. I apprectiate you giving back to the freestyle world and helping judge the 2013 Snake Freestyle Basketball Contest. I wish you nothing but success for you and Advanced Basics!
Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this.