It's been more than two months since Ukrainian people have been fighting for their lives in an unprovoked war. Millions of civilians are forced to flee their homes. Leaving everything behind, they are shell-shocked refugees of all ages facing an uncertain future in foreign countries. Those who remain see their cities in ruins, trying to help but fearing for their own lives every day.
Dmytro Kryvenko and Vadim Poddubchenko are two of these people. You may know them as "Smoove" and "Miller", the nicknames they use when they compete in professional dunking competitions with Dunk Elite all over the globe including in our very own SHUTUPANDPLAY tournaments. For almost a decade Smoove and Miller have been part of our extended KICKZ fam, two of the world's best dunkers as well as respected members of Ukraine's tight knit basketball community.
Today, they are stark reminders how war in the Ukraine has also affected our once peaceful basketball bubble. We can not pretend this has nothing to do with us or think of sports and politics as two entities that should not be mixed. Dropping bombs on innocent people is not politics and basketball has always been more than just a sport, especially for us at KICKZ. We are all in this together and as a basketball community we must come together and act.
Nobody said it better than Smoove himself when he addressed FIBA on his Instagram:
Dear @fiba / @fiba3x3,
As you are well aware, Ukraine suffers from Russia’s military invasion. On February 24th Russia, with the help of Belarus, began war on the territory of our country launching missile attacks on Ukrainian cities.
This hell has been going on for the fifth day in many parts of the country. Ukrainian cities are being destroyed right at this moment. And along with them, the lives of millions of civilians are destroyed too.
We are proud to be a part of the international basketball community. And we have always treated all nations with respect. But in the modern world there is no place for WAR!
Today we ask for maximum support of the world basketball community and condemnation of the war started by Russia. Let the sport be a tool for PEACE. Therefore, we ask you to help stop Russian troops from killing in Ukraine. We ask you to create additional pressure on the aggressor country and ban all Russian and Belarusian professional and national teams from all international competitions.
As KICKZ we would like to do our part and help where help is needed the most. On the ground in the Ukraine.
That is why ALL proceeds of the "Drop Buckets Not Bombs" t-shirt are going directly to Smoove and Miller. We are cutting out the middleman and people we don't know. We know Smoove and Miller. We have been working with them for many years and they are humble, hard working ballers who have always put their country first.
Smoove and Miller know where money is needed the most because they are there right now walking through the rubble of once busy school gyms and basketball courts. They will put it to good use and cover the most urgent needs like buying food & clothes.
We are calling on you, our loyal KICKZ community for support and are confident you will come through. Send a strong message of peace, help by supporting this initiative and get the limited edition "Drop buckets not bombs" t-shirt. Again, 100% of all proceeds are going directly into Ukraine. We are not keeping a single cent of it.
And to our friends Smoove and Miller, the Ukrainian basketball community and all the people of Ukraine: Stay strong, you are in our thoughts every day.