Three of the most legendary performances at Rucker Park
Located in Harlem, New York City, Rucker Park is arguably the most famous street ball court in the world.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: If you ball it up at Rucker, you go down in history. This article features three historic performances.
Rucker Park was an outdoor court way ahead of it's time. Mainly due to the fact that the style of play at Rucker has always been classic street ball, and it created a high energy vibe between the players and fans that was not common in pro basketball at the time when Holcombe Rucker, a teacher and playground director for the NYC Parks Department, started a tournament there in 1950. And since then, many New Yorkers and fans of the game have been fortunate enough to witness some of the greatest performances in baller history. There have been so many legends to grace the court at Rucker that it would be difficult to name the top 3 or even the top 20. But here are three that are definitely worth another look.
Kevin Durant drops 66 on August 1st, 2011.
When Durant rolled into Rucker for the first time in August of 2011, everyone knew they were in for a show, but they probably didn't realize how good of a show it would be. Durant went off for 66, was 9 for 11 from behind the arc, and at one point he got the crowd so hyped after draining four threes in the fourth quarter, that they flooded the court before the game even ended. Check out Durant making it rain at RP below.
Kobe Bryant in the rain in 2002.
Most likely, had the game not ended early due to rain, Kobe would've finished with more than 15 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Regardless, Kobe still managed to put together a highlight reel, despite dealing with a heckler calling him overrated the entire game. After the game was called early, Bryant said it was "too bad it was raining" but also made a point to say "There's no atmosphere like Rucker." Check out the clip of Kobe at RP.
Julius Erving becomes Dr. J at Rucker Park.
At the time he got to Rucker Park, Julius Erving wasn't even in the pros yet; he wasn't known as Dr. J, nor had the crowd at the famous court ever gotten so large. But it wasn't before long that people were up in the trees watching one of the greatest future players of all time.
Erving called his best friend in high school 'the professor' who in turn called Julius 'the doctor'. So when the commentator at Rucker Park started giving Erving names like "The Claw" and "Black Moses" Erving simply went over and said 'Look, if you're going to call me anything, just call me the Doctor." And that was that. Dr. J it was.
"It was the first time I experienced where two points was actually worth more than two points," Erving said of playing at RP. "Two points might have been worth a dinner, a date, just definitely more than two points. And I didn't have that mentality before, but i came to understand that you know the fans came to see and they were concerned about who won or lost, but lots of times, even in defeat, if somebody put on a pretty good show, they could walk off the court a winner."
Here's a clip of Dr. J at Rucker.
Image credit: ebcruckerpark Instagram