Rucker Park Rumors
Archibald’s storied basketball career started in New York City on the city’s famous playgrounds. Coming out of the Bronx in the 1960s, Archibald displayed skills molded by taking on other streetballers in many of New York’s famous parks, including Rucker Park, where he developed a knack to score and facilitate. “What I remember him always talking about was the New York playground legends,” said Cedric Maxwell, Archibald’s teammate with the Boston Celtics from 1978 to ’83. “Guys that he played with and he always talked about — Joe Hammond ‘The Destroyer’, Pee Wee Kirkland — all those guys out of the city that played down in the Rucker. I kind of lived vicariously through him when it came to New York, because he’d always tell me stories about different places that he’d go to in the summer. In my mind, he took me down 42nd Street so many times, and I had never really been there.”
Julius “Dr. J” Erving was among several basketball legends who turned out Saturday afternoon for the ribbon cutting and reopening of the newly renovated Greg Marius Court at Holcombe Rucker Park in Harlem. The NBA Players Association teamed up with the city parks department for the renovation. The court’s pavement was leveled and repainted, the baskets were replaced, the bleachers redone and a new state-of-the-art scoreboard installed.
Erving says the park was where a lot of the style of today’s NBA was born. “I don’t remember whether we won most of our games or not, but it suddenly became as much about putting on a show as it was winning the game,” Erving recalled. “I think it’s a great tribute to the people who come to support the game of basketball,” fellow Hall-of-Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald said. “You talk about the legends, past and also present, to come here. This is probably the most historical park in the world.”
Michele Roberts, the NBPA, several corporate sponsors along with the New York City Parks department have teamed up to give the court at Rucker Park an updated look, thanks to $500,000 in funds from the players union.
Roberts says she’s not just disappointed at how Rucker deteriorated over the years, but also how fans don’t seem to understand its rich history. “Back in my day, it was the biggest show in town. So, I took a look at the court (recently) and said, ‘Oh! It’s a little raggedy, and kind of dangerous,’” Roberts said. “I think over the years, and I am not casting blame on anybody, it’s been allowed to get in various stages of disrepair, patchwork here and there. I was concerned about it because the Rucker is a mecca.”
The National Basketball Players Association, in partnership with NYC Parks, will renovate the Greg Marius Court at Holcombe Rucker Park in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, the players’ union announced Thursday. In a project funded by the NBPA, the renovation of the iconic court includes repairing and leveling the pavement, the replacement of bleachers, backboards, baskets and the scoreboard, the addition of team benches and repainting. The backboards and baskets will be custom-made and provided by Spalding.