Celebrating Shanice Beckford-Norton: A Buzzer Beating Talent Leading the Charge for Women's Basketball.
The Air Jordan 4 silhouette, immortalized by Michael Jordan's legendary "buzzer beater shot" in the 1989 NBA playoffs, continues to leave an indelible mark on the world of basketball and sneaker culture. Its legacy as a global phenomenon is akin to the influence of London's own basketball prodigy, Shanice Beckford-Norton. At just 26 years old, Shanice, the captain of the London Lions women's team and a Commonwealth Silver Medallist, has risen to become a showstopper on and off the court, much like the Air Jordan 4s she now celebrates.
During a memorable shoot at a court in Deptford, we had the pleasure of meeting Shanice Beckford-Norton, and it was evident that she possessed both talent, charm and humility. As the Yellowzine team took turns to excitedly encourage her to score baskets, we could sense a hint of shyness, but naturally, albeit perhaps reluctantly (though with a smile) she obliged. But when it comes to the real thing, Shanice is no stranger to pressure. Shanice's ability to perform under pressure and hit crucial shots when the clock is ticking mirrors the iconic "buzzer beater shot" by Michael Jordan. As the go-to player during tight moments, Shanice has come through for her team on multiple occasions, drawing parallels with MJ's historic shot. One memorable instance, she shares, was when she hit a game-winning shot from the opposite free-throw line with just seconds left on the clock, leaving her teammates and fans in awe. It's moments like these that earned Shanice a reputation as relented with unwavering dedication to the game. “During the past couple of seasons, because of my speed, I've been that player where, there's FIVE seconds on the clock, we have to get down the full court and get a score real quick. And one of my teammates, Paige – every time there's a few seconds left, she'll be like “EOC EOC”, which means ‘End of Clock’ meaning “get the ball to Shanice”.
Growing up with basketball influences in her family, Shanice found her passion for the sport early on. She credits her older brother, who played basketball, and her uncle, a volleyball coach, for inspiring her. However, it was the experiences she gained and the impact she had on others that solidified her unwavering commitment to basketball. As she reflects, "When we're young, we talk about playing professionally but now I play because I am able to do just that. I'vebeen able to inspire a bunch of kids. I've had grown women and grandmas tell me that the first basketball game they watched was when I played. And they're inspired by me. So, the experiences, the people I've met, and the impact I've been able to have on people do it for me." Knowing that she could be a role model and inspire others, especially young girls, became the driving force behind her dedication to the game.
As a player for the London Lions and Team GB, Shanice admits that handling the pressure was not always easy. Internal pressure often challenged her, but she learned to remind herself that she is more than just an athlete. Understanding the impact she has on fans and the community motivated her to embrace her role as an inspiration. Surrounding herself with a supportive team and maintaining a balance between seriousness and fun through community activities helped Shanice stay focused and passionate about the sport she loves.
Shanice believes in the power of positive affirmations and regularly reminds herself of her qualities and strengths. As she shares, "This year, in particular, I started to use more positive affirmations. I would have them around in my apartment, I would say them before games, and I would recite them to myself or regularly write down things that I'm good at. For me, I see it as, what qualities can I bring to each practice? So I make sure to remind myself of those qualities that I have and bring to my team."
Being both a player and a coach, Shanice understands the importance of knowing her athletes as people and connecting with them on a deeper level. She draws from her own experiences with different coaches, learning from both the good and the challenging ones. "One of the biggest things is knowing the athletes as people and getting to understand them as people. That allows me to have the biggest impact both as a player and as a coach," she reveals.
As an East Londoner, Shanice's approach to basketball is heavily influenced by the vibrant and diverse cultural scene of the city. Embracing the community spirit, she highlights the efforts of the London Lions in capturing their individual personalities, "The London Lions are doing collaborations with different groups so that we can share the game and what we are able to do. The basketball community is really good at working together to uplift one another." She believes that uniting everyone involved in basketball is key to taking the sport to the next level in London and beyond.
On the court, we captured Shanice in the Tatum 1 signature shoe, paying homage to Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum's signature playing style known as the 'Dolphin.' Embodying the spirit of Jayson Tatum's dynamic and agile on-court approach, Shanice effortlessly transitions between finesse and power, displaying the versatility and tenacity that define the 'Dolphin' style of play. Though, similar to Tatum, Shanice has fought her way to the top in her career, when it comes to the involvement of women in basketball generally, there is still some way to go. Shanice emphasizes the need to remove gender barriers and create safe spaces for girls to play and compete. "I would encourage women and girls to mix and play with boys and men because of the physicality and agility they can bring, it can really help us improve," she shares. Providing opportunities for girls to play together and empowering them through basketball will be essential in extending women's involvement in the sport.
As we delve into her journey, Shanice opens up about the challenges she faced early in her career. Playing on a mixed team as there were no girls' teams for her age group, she questioned her body image and felt less feminine due to the physicality of the sport. However, she overcame these setbacks, “as I got older though, I’ve been able to extend these conversations, because I've been on all-girls teams now where I felt safe enough to discuss these things which allowed me to be happy with how I am while still being an elite athlete. Taking care of mental health and learning how to rest as well was really important.” Her journey helped her learn valuable lessons that shaped her into the player and person she is today.
Reflecting on her experiences, Shanice offers some heartfelt advice to her younger self, "You have all the tools you need, you're not lacking anything, you just have to keep working and believe that you have everything that you need. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations so you can discover those tools and learn how to use them."
Shanice's historic feat of leading the London Lions to all four major titles in a single season is a testament to her leadership and determination. To aspiring basketball players, she imparts wisdom from her journey, "No matter who you are, or how old you are, you can be a leader. And a leader doesn't have to be the best player or the most skilled player on a team, it's just doing things by example."
As we celebrate Shanice Beckford-Norton, the embodiment of the Air Jordan 4's legacy, we recognize the impact she has had both on and off the court. Her relentless energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to giving back to the community make her a true Buzzer Beating Talent and a source of inspiration for basketball enthusiasts worldwide. As she continues to shine in the Air Jordan 4 silhouette, she stands as a testament to the timeless legacy of Michael Jordan's historic "buzzer beater shot" and the enduring power of basketball to unite and inspire.
Production and creative direction: @yellowzine
Photography assistant: @seunomis
Styling Assistant: @alimalisa