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Rucker Park - The Legendary B-Ball Court

Rucker Park is more than just an outdoor basketball court in Harlem, New York. Rucker Park is the breeding grounds of some of the greatest professional basketball players to have ever played basketball. The stories that come from Rucker Park symbolize the adversities of the African American culture swamped with racism, drugs, and poverty. Now Rucker Park holds many tournaments with the main focus to help raise money for less fortunate children go to college.


The Birth of the Rucker


In 1946, Holcombe Rucker started the very first tournament at Rucker Park. The tournament was so successful that Holcombe helped raise money to put over 300 children through college and more importantly gave a chance to great players to gain recognition.


B-Ballin for the Best


At that time, many African American players were discriminated against and not given a chance to play in the NBA, so they played at “The Rucker” . At the time the tournament was arguably more prestigious than the professional league, and almost all the greatest names to play basketball, have played at the Rucker. Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are three of the greatest players of all time and they all competed at the Rucker.


Kareem's Competitor


Through the 1960s and 70s, drugs became a very dangerous influence to young children, and they prevented some of the great young basketball players from ever doing anything with their lives. Earl “The Goat” Manigault was the most noted player to never play professional basketball because of his drug problem. Holcombe, and even legendary NBA players like Kareem, considered Earl to be the greatest player at the Rucker. But Earl dropped out of school after being caught using drugs. He was later found to be a heavy heroin user when all of his teammates went to college.


Earl’s Everything


After Holcombe died in 1965 from lung cancer, the interests of the park were not as successful because of some social issues. The park became known as a popular ground for drug dealers and users, and it lost the positive momentum that Holcombe had built. But in Earl’s recovery from his drug problem, he dedicated his whole life to restore the park and save it from the dangers of drugs. Earl began his own tournament to raise money to help rehabilitate children from drug abuse.


Hollywood Hits Harlem


After a very big renovation in the early 90s, the Rucker has become a major landmark in basketball culture. It hosts several tournaments every year for different charities. Many films and television shows, such as “Above the Rim” with Tupac Shakur, and MTV’s Real Rucker Park Legends, have been filmed on location. If you want to learn more about what goes on at the Rucker, you can visit the website! !


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