When it comes to the history of basketball, no place is more influential than New York City. But it’s on the blacktop, not the hardwood that the true legacy of New York basketball was written. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Julius Erving, Bernard King, and dozens more hail from the Five Boroughs and grew into NBA stars. Others found local acclaim. Jumpin’ Jackie Jackson, Pee Wee Kirkland, Joe the Destroyer Hammond, and Earl the Goat Manigault are all streetball icons who never reached the pros.
For decades, the courts of New York have served as the breeding ground for some of the most influential talent in the game. Streetball has always been the forum to prove yourself and grow as a player. Runs allow for freedom and creativity, but know this — they’re not for the faint of heart. You’d better come with your jumper on point and your confidence set to ten.
If you consider yourself a baller, you need to get a game in New York. No matter how basketball evolves, true hoops heads still show the city’s parks huge love. Crowds still line the most famous courts, too — cheering the stars of tomorrow.
To take us on a tour of the best court in the Five Boroughs, we connected with founder and head coach of CST Elite (an AAU team and training academy) Rob Sargeant. Coming up, Sargeant would take the train in from Jersey, seeking out the best runs of New York in the mid-’90s. After playing professionally in Europe for over a decade, he came back to re-connect to the region that made him. Sargeant has made it his mission to revitalize the game in the tri-state area — bringing back the toughness and hustle that used to be the city’s calling card.
WHERE TO PLAY IN NEW YORK
As Sargeant sees it, the place where the game is still played with toughness and attitude is in Brooklyn. Gersh Park to be specific. So grab your outdoor kicks and your outdoor ball and hop the Q train to the Pennsylvania Ave station. We’re going to BK!
Every city is a little different — Brooklyn is different from the Bronx, etc — if you’re gonna go for a run, I would say go to Brooklyn. Because in Brooklyn you’re gonna get a better run than anywhere else. Guys playing the right way and better competition. You’ll get a better run at Gersh.