Streetball's most competitive courts
Want to see real basketball, fast, furious and free? Check out one of these seven courts, where NBA stars (and even the president) have come to test their skills.
Deep in the game at the Cage, Manhattan's super-competitive basketball court on West Fourth Street, in Greenwich Village. Photo by Joseph Holmes.
YOU can pay top dollar for a courtside seat at Madison Square Garden or the Staples Center, if you want to, but basketball aficionados will tell you that some of the best round ball action can be seen for free at a handful of playgrounds and outdoor recreational centers around the country.
Streetball may be looser than professional or college ball--expect more showboating and double-dribbling than you'll ever see during March Madness--but it's not all trash talk and flashy dunks. Some top NBA stars began their careers on these asphalt courts, and many come back for the occasional pickup game even after they've made it big.
Legends have hit the court at Rucker Park since the 1950s. Photo by Kyle Sherman.
Rucker Park (New York City)
The most famous streetball venue in the world is Rucker Park, at 155th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem, one of Manhattan's most historic neighborhoods. The action here dates back to 1946, when Holcombe Rucker, a junior high school teacher and city parks department recreational director, started a summer basketball tournament with the goal of giving local teens direction and discipline. He inspired thousands of "Rucker kids" who went on to college and then to careers as teachers, doctors, lawyers, business owners -- and pro basketball players.
Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving were among the stars who played at Rucker Park during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, sometimes getting whipped by local legends like "Jumping" Jackie Jackson and Earl "The Goat" Manigault, a player who never made the big leagues but who pioneered the crossover dribbles, behind-the-back passes and bodacious dunks that would later transform the way the game was played in the NBA.
Toronto Raptor Jerryd Bayless, and Michael Beasley and Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves are some of the more recent pros who've played at the Rucker, now formally known as Holcombe Rucker Memorial Park.
> Find more about Rucker Park | New York sports | NBA on FoxSports
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