This past Saturday at Rucker Park, located at 155th Street and Eighth Avenue in Harlem, an official celebration of its renovation and reopening was held. The iconic courts had become worn over the many decades of use, unleveled and sunken in some areas.
Since August, work crews from the Department of Parks and Recreation, as well as private contractors, restored and reconstructed the park and courts at a cost with funding from the National Basketball Players’ Association at a cost of $520,000. New bleachers, a state-of-the-art outdoor scoreboard and fiberglass NBA backboards with break-away rims now highlight the venue.
“This is a great day for Rucker Park and Harlem,” said Bob McCullough, a member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame and one of the organizers of the event. “They’re both known throughout the world for their many contributions. This will further extend their basketball legacy.”
Gus Wells, the chief executive of the Entertainers Basketball Classic, which is held at Rucker Park during the summer, said the park’s history is “more than about basketball.” The grey skies that lingered above Upper Manhattan early Saturday afternoon were brightened by the shine of Rucker legends Julius “Dr. J” Irving, Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Joe Hammond and Pee Wee Kirkland. Also in attendance were family members and friends of the illustrious Holcombe Rucker, after whom the park is named, and Greg Marius, the late founder of the Entertainers Basketball Classic. The court at Rucker Park bears Marius’ name.
Other prominent figures commemorating the day were Michelle Roberts, executive director of the NBA Players’ Association since 2014, who was instrumental in spearheading the occasion, rap artist Fat Joe, and basketball luminaries Rod Strickland, Freddie Crawford, Tom Hoover, Carl Green and Smush Parker.