Birth of the Game!
The paradise of Harlem for the locals was, and still is " The Rucker " Park. Now a famous/infamous basketball park where many professional players made their first shots. The city game of Streetball started about sixty-something years ago when a man named Holcombe Rucker started the first basketball tournament in the soon to be famous court. Before long, so many people were shooting hoops that the nets on the rims had quickly worn and disintegrated. The city of New York had no plan to replace the nets.
The no-net hoop style soon took over many courts in the city. The net on a rim gives the shooter a better perception on where to shoot from long range. This made it so that the players had to concentrate more on driving in hard to the goal. Thus the early form of the street game was born. When the "word-of-mouth" was followed with thousands in crowds, the roof tops of nearby buildings were the cheap seats. The tree tops and hoods of parked cars were front row! Some of the NBA pro's like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dave Cowens would come out there to battle the streetballer legends like Earl Manigult, a.k.a. "The Goat".
As these tournaments kept getting more and more famous, there were more legends being etched into the street game mythology. All good things got to end some time, right? Well they did. NBA pro's started making too much money in the eighties to be risking an injury battling the court legends on the street. The million dollar companies weren't to excited about the idea of their million dollar investments being put to risk. The prime purpose of "Rucker Park" began to fade away. It left locals and the crowds to just watch streetballer against streetballer battles. Which soon became famous in itself.
Old School Legends!
-Joe Hammond, a.k.a. "The Destroyer"
Many people still call Joe Hammond the best streetballer there ever was. He never spent a minute in the NBA or college basketball but he would beat just about anyone or anything when it came down to it. He had the accuracy of a programmed robot, but the swiftness and grace of a butterfly. No one nicknamed him butterfly though because he was deadlier than a cheetah. That's why he was officially named "The Destroyer"! He went to a tournament game at the Rucker Park a little late one time in 1971, showing up for the second half of the game to play on the losing team. The team coach manned him against their toughest opponent and the team thought they were done for sure. The next thing you know, Hammond banged fifty points onto the scoreboard faster than you could say "afro". He was offered a contract for fifty thousand dollars to play with the Lakersthat he turned down. His reason for denying it was because he said he could two hundred thousand dollars in a year selling weed and heroin. Then the next thing led to the next until he was locked up in late 1971 for eleven years on drug charges.
-Earl Manigault, a.k.a. "The Goat"
One of Joe Hammond's biggest idols was a six foot tall cloud-walker, Earl Manigault. One of his teachers said his last name horribly wrong and that's how he got the name, "The Goat". He makes Micheal Jordan look like he's still crawling. "The Goat" would pick quarters off the top of the backboard. He's the reason that anyone ever started taking anything off the top of the backboard. He challenged himself one time and dunked backwards thirty six times in a row. Now lets see you try and touch the rim thirty six times in a row. Earl even said "there are more memories of me in the air than on the ground". "The Goat" also bought, sold, and used drugs until he got clean and opened Goat Park on 99th and Amsterdam in the latter eighties. He then spent his spare time on his court playing and teaching youngsters the past so they wouldn't repeat it. He is still in the minds of the many players he had schooled on the court. Unfortunately he is not still on the court, he did in 1998 of heart failure.
-Richard Kirkland, a.k.a. "Pee Wee"
"Pee Wee" was one of the selected few that stuck like an unforgiving leech in the opponents minds. Everything about everything he did was with his own unique style and it was sicker than Sik Wit It! Richard was in college basketball until he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. Shortly after, he left the Bulls because he didn't think he was treated fair, he turned the ball over and got locked up in 1972 on drug charges. Just like almost the rest of them.
Time For New School!
-Philip Champion, a.k.a. "Hot Sauce"
Sauce" was the original name that would make people scared when they heard it. Philip Champion would shoot jump shots from deep out and yell "sauce" everytime he did it. It was kind of like a signature from him, saying "sauce shot the ball so it's goin in, don't worry about getting a rebound". Finally it got to the point where everyone just started calling him "sauce". If he screamed it and then missed people would make fun of him and call him "tomato sauce", but since he made it a lot more than he missed, people would call him "Hot Sauce"! At first he was known as Phil The Thrill but "Hot Sauce" is a lot easier to say. His mom and dad split when he was little so he was constantly going back and forth between Jacksonville and Colombus, FL, but wherever he went he stayed with the basketball in his hands. "All I wanted to do was play ball" he said. He would even steal the neighbours ball if he didn't have one at the time.
His mom would send him to the store for some milk and he would dribble the ball there. On the way back he would usually get distracted by a game and he would show up at his house three hours later sweaty, with warm milk in his hand. He never played basketball in highschool but when his father was stationed in Germany for the Army, he would spend his days improving his game on the army kids at the court. After he finished highschool he returned to the states and constantly snuck into the basketball gym to sleep, using his basketball as a pillow. He held odd jobs until he found an easier way to make money. You guessed it, drugs! While he was in jail AND1 had heard about the best streetballer on earth, "Hot Sauce"! They eventually found him and got him out of jail, only to make him one of the most famous streetballers, ever!