NBA All-Stars don’t want overtime on Sunday night. It’s clear 48 minutes is enough for them.
But the All-Stars and the NBA can’t avoid Overtime off the court in Charlotte.
Overtime — the digital media brand specializing in high school sports, not the extra period after regulation — has established its presence at NBA All-Star Weekend. Fans entering the city this weekend are driving right past Overtime’s “All-Stars of the Future” billboard, which features 10 of the nation’s top high school players — LaMelo Ball being the most recognizable — split between East and West (see full list at bottom of article).
“They’re true superstars in their own right,” says Overtime President and Co-Founder Zack Weiner. “I think there’s sort of this love for them that’s insatiable. When you first read about it, ‘Whoa, a high school kid on a billboard,’ it sounds weird and then you’re like, ‘Wait, it makes sense. These guys are global superstars. Why should they not be on billboards?’
New billboard in Charlotte shows what the All-Star Game will look like in a few years 🤯 pic.twitter.com/2QA7DuFT31
— Overtime (@overtime) February 14, 2019
“For our audience, it’s just cool. It’s these guys they’ve been watching for the past couple of years and to see them in Charlotte, around the NBA All-Star Game, when obviously, they’re going to be All-Stars in a few years, people that recognize them, it’s why they love Overtime. You feel like you’re on the wave before it’s taken off.”
Weiner, 26, and Overtime CEO and Co-Founder Dan Porter, 52, don’t look like traditional media executives at NBA All-Star Weekends. For the interview, the two walk around The Westin Charlotte in Overtime hoodies, showing off the brand’s merchandise in a hotel full of NBA brass.
“We want to be everywhere,” Porter says. “We want them to be like, ‘I see you guys everywhere. I see you on my Instagram feed, I see you on YouTube, I see you on television, I see you on the billboard.’ We’re building the biggest sports network in the world.”
Kawhi Leonard happens to walk by during the interview. He says hello to the Overtime duo and flashes what some might consider a rare smile.
“He recognizes Overtime,” Weiner immediately says.
“You see Trae Young walk through the tunnel in his Overtime sweatshirt,” Porter adds, referencing a recent game entrance by the Hawks rookie. “We out here.”
R 🍩 🍩 K pic.twitter.com/d8Zl78ia1u
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) February 10, 2019
Before starting Overtime in fall 2016, Porter served as Head of Digital at WME with Weiner working on the digital team. In early 2017, Overtime raised $2.5 million in seed funding and in February 2018, the brand announced another $9.5 million in funding, with capital coming from Kevin Durant, among others.
Just this past Thursday, Overtime revealed it has received $23 million in Series B funding, which includes investments from current and former NBA players Carmelo Anthony, Baron Davis and Victor Oladipo. Porter told Variety the company has a valuation of around $100 million.
“I would say that that we’re very strategic about almost everything we do,” Weiner says of the investment announcement corresponding with NBA All-Star Weekend.
Davis can give some perspective as an investor.
“They’ve kind of got their finger on the pulse and these guys are doing a good job of growing that community and looking to be disruptive,” he says, when asked about the billboard. “You don’t find too many young companies like that.”
Just over two years into its lifespan, Overtime is starting to see some of its former high school basketball subjects reach the NBA level (it should be noted Overtime considers its four current main verticals basketball, football, soccer, and esports). Players like Young tip their cap to Overtime, which was on their stories before they were household names.
“When Dan and I started a company that wasn’t something that we proactively thought about,” Weiner says. “I’ve realized that it’s happened. I think it’s taken off even more than we thought in terms of filling content with them, them repping our gear, them retweeting us, posting on Instagram. They definitely recognize sort of the implicit partnership that we’ve had throughout their careers, starting in high school.”
You might have been introduced to Zion Williamson this season, but Overtime fans have been watching Williamson’s dunks for a couple years now.
For the players on the billboard, this is part of that conveyor belt. Other than Ball, this is a huge boost to these teenagers’ PR campaigns. Overtime is the brand investing in youth basketball content at a grassroots level.
“Some of the guys are more well-known and some are less,” Weiner says of players Overtime covers. “But a core value of what we do is bring recognition to these kids and help build their platform. I mean those guys [on the billboard], I believe will all be in the NBA, but there are some players that we’ve covered that won’t and there’s a lot of value in them growing their social followings and building their brands.”
One of the players, Anthony Edwards, is among the top senior high school recruits in the country, but Mikey Williams is an eighth grader, just starting to get his name out there.
In Charlotte, Overtime is credentialed for all standard NBA media events. One could argue Overtime is a rival to the NBA and its partners, from a content perspective. After all, they draped a billboard over the city hosting the NBA’s premier tourist event.
Porter and Weiner don’t see it that way.
“With retired commissioners, we have an amazing relationship,” Porter laughs, referencing David Stern, who invested in Overtime’s seed round.
“In terms of a formal business partnership, there’s nothing right now, but I was talking to people at the league and they love Overtime,” Weiner says. “They understand the importance to the young community. I think it’s about timing when and if there’s something to be done officially.”
It might take a few years. Maybe when the players on the Charlotte billboard are in the NBA, that’ll be the time for Overtime and the NBA to partner. After all, those players will remember who brought them to NBA All-Star Weekend first.
For reference, these are the players included on Overtime’s billboard, with their descriptions, as provided by Overtime:
Mikey Williams – Mikey Williams is the best 8th grader in the country. He’s from California and is known for his crazy dunks and LeBron comparisons.
Jalen Green – The most athletic junior in the nation! Jalen Green is from California and dunks on everyone.
RJ Hampton – The Texas point guard can do everything on the court. People say he could play in the NBA right now!!
Cassius Stanley – Cassius is a senior from California. Since 9th grade he has been throwing down viral dunks. He legit floats in the air.
LaMelo Ball – The son of LaVar and brother of Lonzo Ball. LaMelo is a senior at Spire Institute in Ohio. He is from California. LaMelo is the most famous high school basketball player ever. He played professionally overseas last year.
Cole Anthony – The son of NBA player Greg Anthony. Cole is a point guard at Oak Hill Academy in VA. He’s from NYC and is regarded as the best point guard in the country.
Jalen Lecque – Senior at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. Jalen is from New York and committed to NC State. He is the most athletic player in the country.
Anthony Edwards – From Georgia and committed to Georgia. Anthony Edwards has bursted onto the seen as a top guard in the nation. He could be the #1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Scottie Lewis – From New Jersey and committed to the University of Florida. Scottie Lewis is super talented and has gotten comparisons to Kobe Bryant.
Aidan Igiehon – Aidan is originally from Ireland. He has become famous for his power game and his nickname “The Irish Hulk”. Aidan is committed to Louisville.