Friday, July 13, 2007

Rucker Park???

So my labrum story, which I was so sick of working on, finally made its triumphant appearance in print today — in New York City, Boston, and Philly (on Monday) no less. And for my next endeavor in the "real" journalism world, I was asked to come up with a story surrounding the Entertainer's Basketball Classic held at the world famous Holcombe Rucker Park. So I came up with the ingenious idea of doing a story on the guys who aren't the big timers, the ones who have to have other jobs besides playing glorified pickup basketball...or so I thought.

So I went to Rucker yesterday for the first time. It was pretty cool looking, especially since I've seen it on TV so many times. But the play, to be honest, was underwhelming. To me, it looked just as intense as one of those "really intense" CCRB games at school. And to make matters worse, when you're talking about streetball, you expect to see some silly, ridiculous moves and unreal dunks...but for the most part both were non-existant. Now, maybe I was just watching a bad game or something, but it was just really...well...boring.

After the game I became quasi-friends with this guy Malloy Nesmith aka "Da Future". He's apparently the youngest player to ever get on the court in the EBC at Rucker Park. But that was back in 1992. Now he's 32, has no real shot at the NBA, and has no other job besides playing streetball. By the way, the name "Da Future" comes from the fact that his moves on the court are somehow moves that the NBA will be seeing in "the future" but somehow haven't invented yet. But unless the NBA hasn't done no look passes (which seems to be "Da Future's" trademark) then I didn't see anything my basketball eyes would consider earth shattering.


I took a ride with this man. Was it smart?
I'm not really sure.

So after talking with Da Future for about 10 minutes, I got invited by him to take a ride in his "Range". How this guy who claims to just play basketball on the streets can afford a Range Rover (and apparently he's got a Mercedes too) is beyond my knowledge (cough cough something illegal). But back to the story, I went on a ride around the neighborhood talkin with Future and his friends. I'm not sure what made them embrace a young, white journalist who literally had to tell them to repeat themselves 50 times because I didn't understand what they were saying. But I just turned on the recorder and let them do some self-promotion. And what I got is that there are apparently a lot of haters out there as it concerns Da Future, but he's here to stay (I was way too scared these guys were packing heat to laugh at any of their nonsense).

I then talked to this other guy, Jazz Mansell, who's 31 and just got out of prison. I forgot to ask him what he did time for. But he also just plays streetball for a living and he will continue to do so until his "knees give out or I have to do more time". He was the opposing team to Da Future and his team lost. He painted a much more accurate picture of what I thought living the streetball life would be. He's got two kids and he was very honest about the fact that he never knew if he would be able to pay bills month-to-month. This past winter he played for an ABA team in Arkansas but they folded halfway through the season. By the way, Jazz's nickname on the court is "The Total Package" because he can play all five positions on the floor.

I also talked to the founder and commissioner of the EBC, Greg Marius. What I got from it is that there's apparently a lot of new tournaments cropping up trying to reap the rewards of all the years the EBC has been around. And although he wouldn't say it matter of factly, Marius is pissed about it. He spent the entire interview defending the EBC and all of its history.

I'll have more from Rucker, seeing as I'm going to have to be at a bunch of games the next few weeks. Hopefully, I'll become that white kid that everyone starts to love because I'm there so much. Oh yeah, funny thing to end this post: Doug E. Fresh (legendary rapper) was at the game, as well as Zab Judah. And as Zab walked in the park, the emcee just starts yelling "Zab please don't get knocked out again, Zab please don't get knocked out again" over and over. I was even laughing.


An example of Zab getting pummeled.

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