When Daze Entertainment Basketball Owner Troy Dean started his organization about 8 years ago, he just wanted to give back to the community doing something that he loved very much — basketball. He had no idea it would be this successful.
“It's been a very, very fun ride so far,” Dean tells The Madison Times at an interview at Denny's Restaurant on East Washington Ave. “We just have a tremendous group of guys on the team and they always do a fantastic job leaving people entertained.”
Perhaps you've seen them perform at an elementary school or at a cancer benefit. Daze is a creative Entertainment Basketball Team who are popular in the Madison schools and do anything from assembly games to charity events. They do shows all over Wisconsin and sometimes out of state.
“I would love to expand more and get outside of the Wisconsin area. What we have is a unique brand of basketball,” Dean says. “When you see a Derrick Rose or a Kobe Bryant, it's hard to talk to those people because they are such huge mega-stars. They are in such demand. When you see what we do, you get a different perspective of basketball and you see the fun side and how personable we are. We take time and sign every autograph and talk to the kids and take every picture.”
For eight years, Dean and his crew have been entertaining and educating people of all ages. Daze was created with three major goals in mind — entertainment, creativity, and positive community relationships.
All Daze members make sure everyone goes home from their events with a smile. “We’ll do whatever it takes to make sure our audience is having a blast,” Dean says. “You’ll see us dancing, interacting with people in the crowd, and demonstrating our spontaneous personalities.”
As for creativity, Daze members are always coming up with new tricks, dunks, and moves to keep things fresh and new. They have some of the top trick basketball players in the world.
“You'll never see the same thing twice with us,” Dean says. “We don't want to be the band that keeps playing the same songs — even if they are good!”
Daze is dedicated to using their time and talents to promote positive community relationships. They take pride in bringing communities closer together and helping them reach their goals through their fund-raising events, demonstrations, camps, and shows.
“Our mission is to give back to the youth and there are many things that we like to talk about with them,” Dean says. “Bullying has been a big thing lately. We touch on different subjects at different schools — sportsmanship, respect, being positive in the community. We want to educate the youth as well as [provide] entertainment.”
Dean and the Daze Crew work hard to entertain the crowd with their tricks, but they also lets young people know that there's a time and place for them.
“We tell them that we're here to entertain you guys and to have fun. If you start doing some of these tricks and things on your basketball team, you'll be sitting next to coach [on the bench,]” Dean laughs.
“All of us are fundamentally sound,” Dean adds. “But everybody doesn't want to see that. We did a game one time where some of the teachers were heckling us that we couldn't play real basketball. So, I called a timeout and we set up a 2-3 zone and showed them how we can actually lock them down on defense and get the ball moving on offense. They were amazed that we could actually play.”
Above everything else, Dean always encourages the youngsters at his events about the importance of school. You have to have a back-up plan. There just aren't that many NBA stars.
“Hone your basketball skils. Enjoy the game,” Dean says. “But you need to think about getting your education first and then you can do what I do. A lot of us on the Daze basketball team have been through school.
“We did a Boys and Girls Club event and I saw that some of these kids have amazing potential but some of these kids have to apply themselves…some of them need the tools,” he continues. “That's why we always talk to the kids about school.
“I've told kids that I've struggled in school but I found a way to get through it — I found that motivation,” Dean adds. “I had people like Amy Wallace and Juan Jose Lopez who worked in Project Opportunity — a scholarship program for at-risk students. They helped me get through. As did Principal [Milt] McPike and Lee Thomas, the principal for my grade level. They told me that whatever I need, they'd be here for me. That was so important. That's the kind of person that I want to be for the younger generation. I pride myself on helping somebody become a better young man or a better young woman in whatever they do.”
Dean does everything with Daze on top of his day job, owning a photography and DJ business, and the time he spends with his wife and four kids.
“I've gone into schools over the last four or five years to speak to the kids about owning a business — because I own the team,” Dean says. “I myself graduated from an alternative school so I also make it a point to go to Work & Learn or Shabazz to let the kids know that I'm an alternative school product and that a little hard work will not hurt anybody and this is what it can get you — and possibly more.
“I've been fortunate to have both of my parents and a great support staff. Many kids that I see don't have that at all,” he adds. “They come from broken and abusive homes. If I can touch that one kid and get them going in the right direction, that makes me so happy.”
Doing fund-raisers for worthy causes also makes Dean and the Daze Crew happy. He knew nothing about beloved Weston High School Principal John Klang in western Wisconsin who was shot and killed by one of his students a few years ago. The whole community was in pain. “I knew nothing about those people out there but I put myself in their shoes and thought about my relationship with me and [former East High Principal] Milt [McPike] or me and Mr. Thomas. I thought about these kids who lost a principal like this,” Dean remembers. “We went into that town that only has about 300 people and we did a benefit show for him that had 1,500 people. Now, there's a memorial for him there. I still keep in contact with his wife. These are the great events that we like to do.”
Building community and forging partnerships are two things Dean wants to do more of as Daze Entertainment Basketball moves forward. “Starting at all of our upcoming events, Badger Max [Isotonic Sport Drink] will be at all of our games,” Dean says. “They will be supplying us with drinks and we will have a good working relationship with them. We're very excited about this partnership.
“I want to continue to build partnerships in the community and maybe get involved in some places that Daze has not been involved with before,” Dean adds. “I hope we continue to become more and more well-known as we branch out. I've always been the type of person who likes to give back. We'll be looking for new and creative ways to do that as we approach our 10th anniversary.”
Want to learn more about Daze Entertainment Basketball or book them for your event? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org