All street basketball players dream of making the pros, of flashing their baddest moves in front of the cameras and wowing millions of viewers the same way they impress their playground fans. But for every player who makes it, countless others fall short and watch their dreams rattle off the rim. ..read more..
The real basketball deal–the inside story of Harlem’s legendary tournament and the pros and playground legends who have made it world famous. Earl “The Goat” Manigault. Herman “Helicopter” Knowings. Joe “The Destroyer” Hammond. Richard “Pee Wee” Kirkland. These and dozens of other colorfully nicknamed men are the “Asphalt Gods,”whose astounding exploits in the Rucker Tournament, often against multimillionaire NBA superstars, have made them playground divinity. First established in the 1950s by Holcombe Rucker, a New York City Parks Department employee, the tournament has grown to become a Harlem institution, an annual summer event of major proportions. ..read more..
“When I was in 9th grade, I saw the Helicopter, with my own two eyes, pick a quarter off the top of the backboard to win a bet, and I was in complete shock,” stated NBA great Bernard King. King wasn’t the only person shocked by the 6’4″ Helicopter during the 1960′s and mid-1970′s. In a Rucker League game, he went for a ball fake in the lane, and as the man waited for him to come down,witnesses swear he treaded air until the referee called three-seconds. In another Rucker Park game, this one against a team of professionals including Willis Reed, Bob McCollough remembers that, “…there was one play where the pros brought the ball down, and Copter blocked a shot. Whap! The guy passed the ball to a teammate who tried to shoot. Whap! Blocked again. T ..read more..