D’Angelo Russell

New Era Cap Co. had a novel way of celebrating this week’s NBA Draft.

The official headwear brand of the basketball league hosted a private screening Monday night to showcase “The Path to the Cap,” a short film it commissioned to showcase one player’s journey to the NBA.

The film was produced by Patrick O’Dell, who is best known for his Epicly Later’d mini-documentaries on pro skateboarders. And while the sports may be different, O’Dell said it was easy for him to “translate that approach to basketball,” and home in on the moment “where an athlete’s life changed forever.”

The star of the film was D’Angelo Russell, who was picked second overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. Now a point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, the film showed snippets of Russell’s upbringing in a rough neighborhood in Louisville, Ky.

Through interviews with his parents, brothers and coaches at the high school and college level, the film traces Russell’s path from playing football in the house with his brothers — and breaking things — to his first glimpses of greatness in high school that led him to the Montverde Academy.  

During his time at the Florida-based boarding school, Russell helped Montverde win two consecutive national championships before joining Ohio State where he spent one year before being drafted.

The film wraps up with footage of the draft three years ago where Russell and his family cried “tears galore” and had “the ugliest crying faces you’ve ever seen,” according to the film.

And when he put on the Lakers hat that night, his life changed forever, he said, joking that he was afraid it wouldn’t fit right and he’d look silly in photos that would last a lifetime.

“The feeling of getting drafted and putting on that team hat was something I dreamed about forever. I worked my entire life to put on that cap,” said Russell. “It is an incredible honor to have worked alongside New Era to tell the story of how I got to that moment, and I’m excited for every player in this year’s draft class to realize that same dream.”

Russell said while he isn’t up to date on who might be the top picks this year, he’ll definitely be watching to see which young men’s “dreams come true.”

“The Path to the Cap” will be shown on New Era’s web site as well as on YouTube.

D'Angelo Russell at the New Era screening.

D’Angelo Russell at the New Era screening. 

The evening wrapped up with New Era showcasing the new NBA Authentics: Draft Series collection and offering attendees the opportunity to customize their own version of the cap.

In addition to individual team logos and colorways, each hat in the collection features a series of unique design elements, featuring custom patches and pins that pay homage to the local city neighborhoods that host the NBA’s 30 teams.

The NBA Authentics: Draft Series collection is New Era Cap’s most exciting NBA collection to date,” said Mark Maidment, senior vice president, brand at New Era, said: “We wanted to create visual representations of the excitement these young men will feel for their new homes and fan families. The cap marks the end of their first path and the beginning of the next: the opportunity to represent each of these cities come opening night.”

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