Rucker Park, a famed basketball court out in Harlem where many legends, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and Julius Erving, have all taken the court prior to their Hall-of-Fame careers, as they all have stories for days on how playing on that court shaped their careers.
We see modern-day superstars, such as Kyrie Irving, who have benefitted from playing at “The Rucker” as well, as all those crossovers that earned him the “Uncle Drew” nickname were developed on that very court. The “Uncle Drew” movie also took place at Rucker Park, as Irving poses as an elderly guy who’s still very good at the game of basketball.
At “the Rucker,” you have to make the absolute most of each and every time you have the ball in your hands, as people love going 1-on-1 during games on that pavement. The best way to beat your defenders is to break their ankles.
Rucker Park History
Given that Rucker Park has been around since the 1950s, it has clearly experienced its fair share of wear and tear. There are big cracks in the pavement, some gates surrounding the park are broken or just flat out missing, and a recent winter storm damaged the bleachers in the park, as Parks Department officials informed a Harlem community board this month.
That has caused the National Basketball Players Association to step up and donate $360,000 to help repair the park, as the renovations will include a new court surface, a new scoreboard, high-quality backboards and hoops, new bleachers and benches, and park gates.
“You can’t talk about New York basketball without talking about the Rucker,” Michele Roberts, the executive director of the player’s union, told Community Board 10.
“At a very young age, [I] learned to appreciate how the Rucker is essentially holy ground.”
Parks Department officials also say that the painting on the court itself will be done by a local artist.
It’s beautiful to see that the NBPA is stepping up to help preserve a historical park, as that will do a lot more to help give local kids in surrounding neighborhoods a chance to step out on the same court that many legends before them stepped on and help them develop their game to a point they can see their future NBA dreams realized.
It’ll give some of those kids, who may not be as fortunate as others, a chance to play on a state-of-the-art court and potentially run into NBA stars on a random New York City summer.
There is a ton of history at “the Rucker,” as even to this day you’ll see guys like Kevin Durant pull up and drop 50 on a random night, but what makes it even better for kids who show up there is that they may even get to meet Durant after the game, as players tend to be more fan-friendly there since there are not as many people as there would be at an NBA game.
Construction will begin on August 16 and last for about 10 weeks.
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