Good cops, bad cops, drug lords and snitches roam the streets of
B-more is a black man's world. The blacks are the politicians, the cops and the administrators. They are the wealthy, the poor, the gangbanging and the bourgeois. And for real, in the summer you can find them all at the Dome.
The Dome is the most unique outdoor basketball court in the United States. Spectators, hustlers, politicians and players have come from far and wide to see this unique setting.
Sitting in the heart of East Baltimore on North Eden and East Biddle Streets, the Dome is connected to the Madison Square recreation center. During the summer months, the court hosts three different leagues. The Craig Cromwell league, which was named in honor of a kid who was playing on Clavert Hall's national championship team but was shot and killed before the season started in 1982. Every high school team in the metropolitan area – including nationally known Dunbar High School – has a squad in this summer tune-up.
There is also the Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League, which consists of AAU and rec teams around the city with division for all ages up to 19 years. And finally, there is the grand daddy of them all – Midnight Madness, with games on Monday and Wednesday nights at
The tournament boasts a rich tradition of notable players. From former Dunbar star and streetball legend Skip Wise – who was the only freshman to lead the ACC in scoring – in the 70's to the 80's – with Dunbar alumni and future NBA players Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Williams and Reggie Lewis along with hood stars like Big Spoon, Duke, Cosher and Tony Bunch – to the 90's – with homegrown B-more superstars and Division I players like Sam Cassell, Michael Lloyd, Kwame Evans, Keith Booth and Donta Bright. They shared the court with streetballers like Elbow, Muddow , Big Hop and Gloves. In the new millennium, you could see future NBAers Juan Dixon and Carmelo Anthony, college players like Mark Karcher, Kevin Braswell, Shawnta "Little Nut" Rogers, Kevin "Stink" Morris, Bootsy Thorton and Johnny Helmsley and several hood stars of the 21st century – including "DJ" Hairston, Beano, Big Zink, Big Vials, Colin "Get Up" Jones, Big Kofi, Lil' Geryl and Antwon Jennifer.
These are the names of the ballers that have rocked the Dome for the last three decades. Some of them have gone on to the NBA or the NCAA and won championships. Multiple in the case of Sam I Am. Some of them have starred in college or been in and out of the league. Some of them never made it out of the hood and still others ended up drug addicts or in the feds doing football numbers.
The Dome is a staple of the city. Like Rucker Park to New York. And everybody comes out for the games. The men, the women, the children and even the dogs and cats. Every young kid who balls in the city dreams of playing at the Dome. They come from all areas of Baltimore – E.A., Preston and Bond, Monument Street, Ashland Ave, Deakyland, Greenmount Ave and Lafayette projects – to try and compete with the city's finest.
The Dome is where Sam Cassell and Carmelo made their bones. It’s where they proved their heart and their games through sweat and tears, victories and losses. Before they shined on the national stage, they shined on the local one.
Skip Wise, Sam I Am, Carmelo, Muggsy, Reggie Williams and Juan Dixon are street certified legends in B-More who created their myths at the Dome. Their legends and feats live on to this day. But in the last couple of years the competition at the Dome has been dominated by one man – Michael Lloyd. He could have gone pro, but it was never to be. Instead he leads a team of pros in the Midnight Madness tournament every year and usually wins. His team, the Michael Lloyd team, has consisted of Carmelo, Marcus Hatten, Kwame Evans and streetballer Andre "Silk" Poole.
But other teams enter regularly too and give Mike Lloyd's squad a run for the title. Sam Cassell usually plays with the T&M Lakers along with Spoon, Elbow and Glen Stanley. The Ashland Ave Runners have Keith and Donta Bright. The Project Boyz boasted prison legend "DJ" Hairston, Mark Karcher and Bootsy Thorton. And you know Chocolate City always enters a team – the DC All Stars, who has Steve Francis, Curt Smith, Greg "The Wizard" Jones, Lonnie Harrell, Pep Tyson, Mike Gill and Big Mike Smith.
So in the summertime the Dome is jumping. The NBA players make their appearances and the street legends like Mike Lloyd hold it down. The Dome is for real. They got those Rucker Park specials on BET right now. And the And1 Tour is all over ESPN2. Even MTV did the Pee Wee Kirkland streetball special. But when are they going to show the Dome some love?
You bet it will be soon. Ain't no secret no more. So BET, MTV, and ESPN2 get your cameras ready. Go down to B-more and get it all the way gutter.
Seth M. Ferranti is the inmate number 18205-083 at FCI Gilmer in West Virginia and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com. Darryl Hairston, a Baltimore native, was a co-writer and source for the article
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