Isaiah Nathaniel '04 honors a hoops legacy through documentary

Class of 2004 alumnus Isaiah Nathaniel, who showed his new documentary 16th and Philly at DSU in February, stands on the court at 16th Street in Philadelphia.

Alumnus Isaiah Nathaniel has combined his love for basketball and his diverse vocations in information technology, photography and videography to produce a documentary on a legendary Philadelphia-area pickup basketball league.

A class of 2004 graduate, Nathaniel made his alma mater a part of the premiere tour of his new documentary 16th and Philly on Feb. 11 at an almost capacity-filled Longwood Auditorium in the Bank of America Building on campus.

Nathaniel, who also played basketball for Delaware State University from 2000-2004, has done a documentary on the famed North Central Philadelphia Basketball League — known commonly in Philly as the 16th Street League, because its outdoor courts are located on the corner of 16th Street and West Susquehanna Avenue in North Philadelphia. During its prominent years of the early 1980s to the early 2000s, it was considered one of the top pickup leagues on the East Coast.

The league produced a number of players who went on to compete in college, overseas, in professional leagues and in the NBA such as Hank Gathers, Bo Kimball, Doug Overton, Lionel Simmons, Ronald “Flip” Murray, Cuttino Mobley, Aaron “AO” Owens, Rodney “Hot Rod” Odrick and many others.

Nathaniel said the documentary was made to honor the memory and legacy of the 16th Street League and preserve some of the stories.

“Anytime people talk about basketball in Philly, there’s always some who remember and talk about the 16th Street League,” Nathaniel said. “Whether you witnessed it as a player or a spectator, it never leaves you.”

In addition to DSU, the film has also premiered in Philadelphia. The filmmaker is also working toward a New York City screening sometime in the spring and is exploring distribution options.

Nathaniel is the CEO of his own information technology consulting business in Philadelphia — Calcom Technologies — which among himself and the seven technicians he employs does full-service IT support work in the tri-state Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware region, including web and graphic designs, branding, marketing and disaster recovery. He is also a co-partner in Diamond Eye Sports, a sports media firm that includes photography and videography services. It is the latter business through which Nathaniel made the film.

With two businesses to tend to, as well the production and promotion of his film, Nathaniel said his years as a DSU student-athlete majoring in information systems served him well.

“Having to juggle sports and academics at DSU prepared me for the juggling I have to do now in different pursuits,” Nathaniel said. “I have a great respect for what DSU did for me.”

-- Story by Carlos Holmes