Free Street Hoops in NYC
by Jonathan Zeller, 06/22/2011
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All summer long, incredible athletes—including pros, future pros and NCAA standouts—hit the asphalt throughout the City for the fast-paced, hard-nosed, inimitable variation of hoops known as "streetball." These courts have seen the likes of Anthony Mason, Julius Erving and Kemba Walker—NYC streetball legend Ed "Booger" Smith even once appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, though he sadly never did reach the NBA. And if your budget can't sustain the cost of courtside seats for the Knicks, Nets or Liberty, you're in luck—the four leagues listed below all cost nothing to watch.
West 4th Street Courts (Greenwich Village)
The basketball court at West 4th Street Courts is known as "The Cage," because its trademark high fence boxes players into much-smaller-than-regulation dimensions. The league here draws huge crowds, who take up the few folding chairs by the court and line the surrounding sidewalks to watch. Anthony Mason and Mario Elie plied their trade here before hitting it big in the NBA (and it was Ed "Booger" Smith's home court, too).
Schedule (regular season runs through July 31):
Monday–Friday: Games at 6pm
Saturday–Sunday: Games at 3, 4:30 and 6pm
All-Star Game: July 13 at 6pm
Playoffs: August (TBA)
No games on July 4
Holcombe Rucker Park (Harlem)
Named for Holcombe Rucker, the Harlem teacher who first started a basketball tournament here in 1950, this court has seen some huge names in its time—Julius Irving and Wilt Chamberlain among them—and still showcases big-time talent during the Entertainers Basketball Classic.
Schedule (regular season runs through August 1; details available at ebcsports.com):
Monday and Wednesday: Games at 6 and 8pm
Tuesday and Thursday: Games at 8pm
August 8–9: Playoffs at 8pm
August 15–17: Playoffs at 6 and 8pm
August 18: Championship at 8pm
No games on July 4
Monsignor Kett Playground, Dyckman Park (Washington Heights)
College stars who've recently played at Dyckman Park include Jordan Theodore of Seton Hall and the unstoppable Kemba Walker of UConn. League organizers say they expect Walker to appear this year, too, along with Gary Forbes of the Denver Nuggets.
Schedule (season runs through August 24; details available at dyckmanpark.ning.com):
Games on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings; game times and more details are available at dyckmanpark.ning.com.
No games on July 4 weekend
Orchard Beach (Bronx)
The courts at Orchard Beach, in Pelham Bay Park, have hosted Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest and some of NYC's best local stars during the Hoops in the Sun tournament.
Schedule (season runs through August 14; details available at hoopsinthesun.net):
Games on Saturday and Sunday afternoons; game times and more details are available at hoopsinthesun.net.