Rucker Park: A Basketball Player's Dream

By: Dylan Rodgers

Written in the history books of legendary venues, Holcombe Rucker Memorial Park is second to none when it comes to street-ball.  No other public basketball court has been so influential in the sport; a Mecca for basketball legends both locally and internationally famed.  Holcombe Rucker, a New York City Parks Department worker, couldn't have known that the P.S. 156 Playground he opened in 1956 would later have NBA stars eager to put their names on the list of those who have played at The Rucker Park.

It all began in 1947 when Mr. Rucker organized a basketball tournament for local Harlem kids as an extracurricular activity.  The tournament eventually settled at P.S. 156 and became a frequent off-season practice court for professional basketball players.  Some big-time players like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Julius Erving played alongside some of Harlem's greatest street-ball legends like Joe Hammond, Pee Wee Kirkland, and the Goat.

Though Rucker Park is one of Harlem's historical gems, its story is far from over.  Since its beginning, Rucker Park has only become more popular and continues to establish itself in basketball history.  Earlier this month on August 1st, for example, Kevin Durant put up 66 points, draining three after three like a wizard.  He fell only 3 points short of the Entertainment Basketball Classic (EBC) record of 68 points set by Steve Burtt Jr.  Joe Hammond scored a whopping 74 points in a game and is recognized as Rucker Park's record holder.

If you're interested in basketball or you just love to be in a social atmosphere electric with excitement, check out Rucker Park.  It is the first court to celebrate basketball stars both local and national in an intimate, community get-together where players, famous or not, are just happy to play.

Holcombe Rucker Memorial Park is located at 155th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd.  For upcoming events and scheduled games and tournaments, click here.

Photo: Evoke