Community Average Folk 101

GET INVOLVED! SPEAK FOR YOURSELVES! DON'T WAIT UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE! More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them. -Harold J. Smith

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Smoking Mirrors...


Anyone who knows anything about basketball knows of the Rucker League in Harlem. The basketball league created by the young Parks director became such a large success that in the early '60s, Mr. Rucker began to lay the foundation of what is now a basketball institution that draw's crowds of people to the street ball court then known as P.S. (Public School) 156 Playground; the park is on North 155th Street which Rucker brought to street-hoop basketball. He was a man of humble beginnings…

The Park’s beginnings started in 1926 in Manhattan, where Holcombe Rucker was born. As a child, he attended Benjamin Franklin High School in NYC where he exhibited an unbelievable love for the game of basketball from a very young age. Along with this love for basketball, he also was a good hearted person and always gave back to the community that he loved so much. He was a true volunteer in every sense of the word! Rucker devoted almost all of his time to this, taking positions as park supervisor and eventually working for the Parks Department of NYC for 16 years. In 1947, he combined his two loves to begin The Rucker League in Harlem, a basketball league which he created with the motto "each one, teach one". The league was played at a small run-down park and Mr. Rucker would personally teach league participants basic literary skills assign and grade homework, and grant playing time according to their academic results. He believed in education. He spent countless hours overseeing the league that he created and passionately loved. He himself continued his education, completing his degree and began teaching English at New York’s JHS 139.

This ‘pro-versus-street' charisma created by the Pro Rucker League continues today with the Entertainer Basketball Classic (E.B.C.). This league, named the Pro Rucker League, allowed the youth of the community to see the guys that they grew up watching on that very court take on the men that they so idolized each night. Mr. Rucker achieved his goal in merging community togetherness with basketball. For Holcombe Rucker, however, this glory was short-lived; he passed away in 1965, at the young age of 38, due to complications from cancer.

During the summer tournament(s) that spans nearly a month, teams sponsored by hip-hop entertainers like Sean Combs and Fat Joe sport such talent as The Bone Collector, Skip To My Lou, Too Much Black, and regularly square up against this generation's line of NBA superstars, while appearances by the likes of VC, AI, Lamar Odom, and Juanny Wags draws spectators to the Rucker like Star Jones. The whole atmosphere that was established in the '60s and '70s when that era's street ball legends were going up against the greats of the game has remained, and perhaps has gotten more intense. For all street ball fans, the thought of their idols, like The Ninja and Sik Wit It, going toe to toe with NBA superstars sends chills down their spines.

The fact that Mr. Ratner teamed up with the Rucker League only confirms that he is connected with the folks that know and respect basketball. This league is an elite league within the basketball world and those who don’t know to respect it, and its evolution only lets you know that they don’t know much about the game at all. What is this collaboration going to do for Brooklyn? This collaboration is going to bring the best of the best to Brooklyn!

You can’t believe all of the hype…the facts are what counts!

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