The History of New York City Basketball
Connie Hawkins playing with the Harlem Globtrotters.
The Summer Leagues And Playground
Dr. J Julius Erving
Every June the annual summer basketball leagues begin
from the biddies to the old-timers. Some of the
premiere leagues also begin as the Greater New York
Pro-Am League at Riverbank State Park in Manhattan and
The Louis Armstrong (Elmcor) Gym in Queens, The Nike
Pro League at Hunter College, and the Citywide League
at all the five boroughs in New York City. The crowd
packs it up in Harlem at the Rucker Playground. The
Rucker Playground brings a special tradition for New
York Basketball. The crowds are over packed to see the
likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins, Julius
Erving, Kareem Abdul Jabaar and the playground greats
of the game.
The league at Rucker Park is now call the Entertainers
Basketball Classic. This is the league where the
celebrities come out to watch or play. Rap artist Sean
"Puffy" Combs has a team in the league. It is called
Bad Boy Entertainment, also Little Kim and Ceasar have
a team in the league. A few of the NBA stars came out
and played a.k.a. Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Joe
Smith, Kevin Garnett, Stephon Maubury, and Kobe
Bryant. The current playground legends playing is
Rafer "Skip To My Lou" Alston, James "Speedy"
Williams, Malloy "The Future" Nesmith, Ron "The
Terminator" Mathias, Half Man-Half Amazing, and The
Main Event. If you going there to watch the action you
need to get there early in order to get a seat; they
do turn people away.
The West 4th Street Summer League located in downtown
Manhattan and it features some of the best ballers on
the semi-pro level. The Sole In The Hole Classic in
Bedford-Stuyvestant area in Brooklyn feature some the
best local college and semi pro players. A documentary
film was made of this tournament featuring the team
Kenny Kings, Ed "Boger" Smith, and Charles Jones who
led the NCAA in scoring back in 1997. Smith was on the
cover of Sports Illustrated and had a story about him
back in 1996.
A few of these playground legends could have made it
to the NBA and some did not. They never made due to
their grades in the classroom, disciplinary problems,
and other issues that affect them from having a great
career in the professional ranks. Here is a few of
Earl "The Goat" Mannigult - Known as the greatest
player who never played in the NBA. Had great leaping
ability and school the likes of Wilt, Connie, and
Kareem on the Rucker playgrounds. Rebound from heroin
use and gave back to his community. A park and
tournament is name after him on the lower Eastside in
James "Fly" Williams - Can light it up on offense,
drops 63 points on Moses Malone in the Dapper Dan
Classic. Had a brief stint at Austin Peay State (TN).
Richard "Pee Wee" Kirkland - Had fierce rivalries with
Tiny Archibald. He rejected a contract that the
Chicago Bulls offer him and said "Hey I could make
more money in a couple of days on the street".
Joe "The Destroyer" Hammond - Score 50 points in one
half against Julius Erving in the Rucker Tournament.
Lloyd "Sweet Pea" Daniels - He was a one man gang on
his team. He can do it all score, rebound, and had a
lot of versatility. Daniels had poor grades, which
force him to attend four different schools in 3 years.
Drop out of high school in 1986 got his GED. His
arrest for drug possession prevents from playing at
UNLV. After recovering from his gunshot wounds, he had
a few brief stints in the NBA with San Antonio, LA
Lakers, and Philadelphia.
Rafer "Skip To My Lou" Alston - A flashy and quick
point guard can make things happen. Played one year at
Fresno State after transfering from the JUCO ranks and
a backup point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The City Championship Era:
Back in the 60's and 70's the Public School City
Champion played against Catholic High School Champion
for the ultimate city title at Madison Square Garden.
It was the best thing tah was going on back in the
days and the Garden was completely sold out. Due to
riots and gang violence, the event had to be removed
from the Garden and it ended the matchup between the
PSAL and CHSAA championship teams. Anyway, the city
championships for both leagues still carry on it's
tradition. The PSAL play the city title at St. John's
and Hunter in the late 70's and 80's. In the early
90's the Public High School city championship games
were allow to return to play at Madison Square Garden.
The Catholic High School continue to play at Fordham
University in the Bronx. The winners of the CHSAA and
PSAL titles compete in Glens Falls and play the New
York State Public School champions and Private
Schools. The New York State championships in 1979, the
two city champions play each other a majority of the
time. It is not the same upstate as it will be in New
York City. It will always be a player's dream to win
the city title over the state. Some of the city's
great ball players got the opportunity to win a city
title such as the likes of Tiny Archibald, Lew
Alcindor, Kenny Anderson, Rod Strickland, Malik Sealy,
Felipe Lopez, Stephon Maubury, Lamar Odom, Eric
Barkley, Kenny Satterfield, and Ron Artest.
Power Memorial and Tolentine won more than a city or
state championship; they had experience of winning a
National High School Championship. In 1967, Power was
led by the great Lew Alcindor (Now Kareem Abdul
Jabaar) and in 1988, Tolentine High in the Bronx was
led by the late Malik Sealy. Sealy star at St. John's
and played with Minnesota Timberwolves. Tolentine was
also led by Adrian "Red" Autry who played for Syracuse
and Brian Reese who was a standout at North Carolina.
Some of the city championship teams finish in the top
25 such as Rice, Loughlin, St. Raymond's, Lincoln,
Grady, and LaSalle.
The AAU Teams:
The AAU teams became a frontier for players to earn
scholarships to college. It is a great opportunity to
perform in front of the college coaches in the nation.
Two of the top AAU teams are The Riverside Church
Hawks and Gauchos. They travel across the nation and
Europe to compete against other teams. The Riverside
program is run by Ernie Lorch has produce the top
talented players such as Walter Berry, Kenny Smith,
Mark Jackson, Ron Artest and Elton Brand. Lou
D'Almedia's Gauchos had the likes of Ed Pinkney, Chris
Mullin,DeWayne "The Pearl" Washington,Kenny Anderson,
Rod Strickland,Stephon Maubury, and Jamal Mashburn.
They are other AAU teams that compete with Riverside
and Gauchos is Brooklyn USA, Elmcor, Madison Square
Broncos, and The New York Ravens.
The People Who Made It Happen:
The coaches, league directors, coordinators, and
scouts deserve a lot of credit for making New York
City Basketball popular today. They dedicated their
time to search the players, coaches, and corporate
support to take these leagues/tournaments and
community to higher levels. These are the people
Holcomb Rucker - He made a big influence with the kids
in the community. Influence them to be successful on
the court as well as in life.
Ernie Lorch - Founder of the Riverside Church Hawks
Basketball program. Mr. Lorch has help and produced
several of the best players in the city out of his
program. He was like a father figure to his kids and
know their lives in and out. Help his players go to
the best colleges throughout the country and assist
them with their personal lives. Not only he help his
players, also the people who coach his program. He has
help the likes of Alex Evans and Dermon Player who are
assistant coaches under Mike Jarvis at St. John's.
Lou D'Alemedia - Owner of the Gauchos who has been a
father figre to his players. He has produced like his
rival Ernie Lorch players to the best college programs
in the country.
Bob McCollugh - Director of the Each One/Teach One
Program and the Rucker Pro League.
Cal Ramsey - Director of Community Relations with the
New York Knicks. Became a big supporter for the top
leagues and tournaments in New York.
Cecil Watkins - President, CEO The Pro-Am League.
Started as a director for the Ray Felix Tournament in
Queens which was an elite tournament in the 60's. A
few of the top players in New York such as Connie
Hawkins, Dean Meminger, Lenny Wilkens, Ron Rutledge,
Mel "Killer" Davis and a few to name. He became the
Founder for Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities in East
Elmhurst. Start up the Greater New York Pro-Am League
which is one of the elite Summer Leagues in New York.
The top New York City players participate in the
league: Chris Mullin, Anthony Mason, Mark Jackson,
Felipe Lopez, Rod Strickland, and Ron Artest. The
Pro-Am League is a nationwide base organization around
the country such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington
DC, and Houston.
Nat Holman - Coached City College to 1949-50 NIT and
NCAA title. Nat Holman was known as "Mr.Basketball."
Because his five starters were all about the same
size, Holman viewed
them as interchangeable parts. His style was an
aggressive, switching, man-to-man defense and a
fast-breaking, pass-oriented offense. Ed Roman, the
center, was 6-foot-6. Layne and Al Roth were 6-3
guards, and Ed Warner and Irwin Dambrot were 6-4
forwards. In 1994, the entire college's 1949-50 team
was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of
Red Holtzman - Head Coach of the Knicks. Coach them to
the 1970 and 1973 NBA Championships. The garden was
rocking in the days of their glory years. Had a few of
the greats of the game: Willis Reed, Walt Frazier,
Deam Meminger, Phil Jackson, and Earl "The Pearl"
Tom Konchalski - HSBI. One of the top basketball
experts around the nation. He goes out and scout the
elite athletes in the country.
Jack Curran - The all-time winningest coach in New
York State. He has been coaching at Archbishop Molloy
high school for over 40 years. He has won a few city
titles and coach the likes of Kevin Joyce, Kenny
Smith, Robert Werdann, Kenny Anderson, Marlon Smith,Shandue McNeil,Sundiata Gaines,Brian Winters.
Lou Carnesseca - Long time coach for St. John's and
kept some of the local talent players in New York. St.
John's made several appearances in the NCAA Tournament
and the final four in 1985. Some of his players move
on to the NBA such as the likes of Chris Mullin, Mark
Jackson, Bill Wennington, Jayson Williams and etc. In
1991 Coach Carnesecca was elected into the Basketball
Hall Of Fame.
Jack Donahue - Coach at Power Memorial in the 60's
which produce Lew Alcindor. Power became the city's
dominant program. Also, was the head coach the
Canadian National Team in the Olympics.
New York City hoops is in a new millenium and the
talent continues to grow stronger. The talent will
always come and go. The tournaments throughout the
year continue to expand around the city and it will Still be excitement for all basketball junkies.
I would like to add some information to this thread(Much Respect to my man Tiny Archibald from Patterson Projects in the Bronx/LOL), Here's a few of the Legendary coaches, Who helped develop alot of the cats that have played in the many AAU Tournaments(IS8,Rucker,Breevort,Tillary Park,West 4thst,Elmcor/Citywode, Highschool(PSAL,CHSAA Division),Etc, In New York, Going back to the 60's.
1.Frank Mickens(Former Coach At Boys High in Brooklyn in the 60's to 1979)
2.Rapper PerezRip(Former coach for Brooklyn USA And the Crushers in the 70's).
3.Ray Haskins(Former Coach of Hamilton HS in the 70's to 1983, And, Former head coach of LIU in the mid 90's).
4.Al Matican(Former Head coach of Cardoza HS in Queens in the 70's, Al Matican coached the first Crew from Queens to win the PSAL Championship in 1978(Cardoza beat Morris from the Bronx in the PSAL Championship game in 1978 at St.John's University.
4.Bobby Hartstein(Former Head Coach at Lincoln HS in Brooklyn from the 70's to mid 90's).
5.Ab-A-DAB Kelly(Used to coach and develop alot of cats from around the southside and Queens, Such as Eddie Lee/Rip(St.John's Military Academy in Wisconsin and The University of Cinncinnatti),Keith Hemans(The University of Cincinnatti),Rod Leecox(New Mexico State),Dana Mitchell(Hillcrest HS/Buffalo State),Kenny Patterson(Forest Hills HS/Depaul)George Allen(Jackson/Pittsburgh),Boo Harvey(Jackson/St.John's),Doug Harris(Jackson),Ron Edwards(Jackson),Dave Edwards(Jackson/Georgetown/Texas A&M),Rafer Alston(Cardoza/Fresno State),Brian Woodward(Cardoza/Rhode Island),Shaheen Holloway(St.Patricks/Seton Hall)Etc.
6.James Ryans(Former coach of the Prime-Time Roadrunners unlimited/Pro-Am crew in the 70's to mid 90's), Current Basketball Scout for the New York Knicks).
7.Ron(The Teacher) Naclario(Current Head coach of Cardoza HS in Queens.
8.Tiny Morton(Current head coach of Lincoln HS in Brooklyn.
9.Dave Hargrave/Rip(Former head coach of the Jamaica Trotters in Jamaica,Queens in the 70's.
10.Kenny(Eggman)Williamson(Former Head coach of Riverside Church AAU crew from the mid 70's to late 70's, And, Current Director of Scouting of the Charolotte Bobcats.
11.Steve Lappas(Former head coach of Riverside Church(Midgets,Junior Division), Former Head coach of Truman HS in the late 70's to mid 80's(Coached Rod Strickland in Highschool at Truman in the early to mid 80's, Along with Winning the PSAL title in 1984, Truman Beat Jackson from Queens with Boo Harvey for the PSL title in 1984 at St.John's University).
12.Gil Reynolds(Former head coach of Vanguard AAU Crew from Brooklyn in the 70's.
13.Joe Bostic-Former head coach Vanguard AAU Crew from Brooklyn.
14.Stan Dinner(Former head coach at Franklin HS in Manhattan.
15.Jim Del Gatto(Former head coach of Mater Christi in Astoria,Queens from the 70's to 90's).
16.Raymond Gillespie/Rip(Former coach of JYO and QYA highschool and Unlimited/Pro crews from the 70's.
17.Billy Medley(Former coach of JYO/Jamaica Youth Organization and QYA/Queens Youth Alliance from the 70's to 90's).
18.Mr.Adams(Former Coach at The Lost Battalion in Rego,Park Queens(PAL Touraments, Mr.Adams was very instrumental, In regards to taking highschool and college cats upnorth to Sing,Sing Prision to play against cats upnorth in the late 70's to mid 80's).
19.Leroy Watkins(Former Head coach of Elmcor AAU highschool crew in Astoria,Queens during the 70's,80's).
All of these coaches(And alot more that were not mentioned, Paved the way for alot of cats to develop into some of the best cats to ever play the game(NBA,ABA,College,Highschool,Drug/Sniff Tournaments in Queens,Manhattan,Etc).