The game of basketball is unique in that it takes on the personality of the culture where it is played. In rural Indiana and places like it you find a slow game that utilizes the pass, cut, and jumpshot - relying heavily on collective effort to get the ball through the rim. Drive to the City and you will discover a more brash, flashy, gritty, physical style that values the ability to handle the ball and beat your opponent individually with the dribble.
Basketball plays a special role in the life of a City. The style of game played in Urban America has produced some remarkable players with fascinating stories. It has shaped mainstream sports and popular culture in profound ways. The City League looks to showcase the players and stories that make basketball in Indianapolis special. But also wants to honor and pay homage to the players around the country that are a product of the culture of the game played in the City. Some have achieved mainstream American sports glory - Hank Gathers, Jalen Rose, Dr. J, Bobby Hurley, Bernard King- while others fame and legend is mostly confined to local parks - James "Fly" Williams, Ed"Booger" Smith, Pee Wee Kirland, Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell, and Earl "The Goat" Manigault. In a multitude of ways both groups have had an enduring impact on the City Game.
Below are some great pieces that allow you to dig into the stories of the best of those who have played basketball in the City.
The most controversial, high profile freshman class to ever hit college basketball, the Fab Five, changed mainstream sports culture with their swagger, style of play, and on court fashion. This book gives an in depth look at the lives and experience of Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson.
Bob Hurley' s legendary St. Anthony High School (Jersey City, NJ) basketball program is the most successful in the country. The tiny inner city school has produced 28 New Jersey High School State Championships and over 1,000 wins while turning out players like Bobby Hurley, Terry Dehere, Rodrick Rhodes, Kyle Anderson, and Tyshawn Taylor.
This is the story of St. Anthony and the 2003-2004 Friars- a group Hurley called the most dysfunctional in his 32 years at the school.
In the summer of 1973 and 1974 future Sports Illustrated journalist Rick Telander lived the playground life at Foster Park in Flatbush Brooklyn. He chronicled the culture of the street game in NYC and the lives of the prominent players of that time. Heaven is a Playground gives a glimpse behind the scenes of the places that produced James "Fly" Williams, Bernard King, and other NYC playground legends.
Seward Park - Chicago
Two blocks northeast of the site where the once renowned Cabrini-Green Housing Project stood at the corner of Division and Oriental sits one of Chicago’s best known hoop spots- Seward Park. The park built in 1908 was one of the first three neighborhood parks built in Chicago. It was the site of a Kyrie Irving Uncle Drew commercial and has hosted the Redbull Reign 3 on 3 basketball tournament. LeBron has also been known to frequent the park when he is in town. Next time you are in Chicago check it out!