New York, NY
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Rucker Park is in the Harlem neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, just across the Harlem River from Yankee Stadium.
I Played Here:
A 2006 documentary called The Real: Rucker Park Legends traces the history of the park and features many all-time greats like Abdul-Jabbar and Erving.
The park is named for Holcombe Rucker, a New York City Parks Department employee who started a basketball tournament aimed at helping disadvantaged kids in his upper Manhattan neighborhood. Over the years, the tournament grew, attracting some of the NCAA and NBA's greatest players like Wilt Chamberlain and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe... and helped hundreds of kids get scholarships for college.
Rucker died of cancer in 1965, but the traditions he started -- and his name -- carried on. In 1971, the playground that hosted the his Tournament was named the "Holcombe Rucker Playground" in his honor.
The EBCWhile the original tournament and Summer Pro Leagues faded in popularity, a new phenomenon came to take their place: the Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC). The EBC started in the early 80s as a series of games between rap groups, but has grown into the world's largest streetball tournament, complete with television coverage, sponsors, and a host of really entertaining nicknames.
It is EBC tradition for game announcers to assign nicknames to players -- but only after they've played well enough to earn one. Kobe Bryant -- the only player to participate in the EBC after winning an NBA title -- was "Lord of the Rings." Rafer Alston of the Houston Rockets was "Skip to My Lou," and former Arkansas guard Kareem Reid is known as "Best Kept Secret."
The Elite 24 Hoops ClassicA new event was added to the Rucker's crowded summer calendar in 2006 with the inaugural Elite 24 Hoops Classic. Unlike other high school all-star events like the McDonald's All-American game, the Elite 24 invites the best players at the prep level, regardless of age or class.
The first Elite 24 Hoops Classic was the subject of Adam Yauch's documentary, Gunnin' for that #1 Spot, and featured Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Jerryd Bayless and Lance Stephenson, among others.