New York City basketball luminary Rod Strickland has continually remained connected to his Bronx hoops roots, paying his good fortune forward in various ways. One aspect of his altruism has been the Rod Strickland Summer Basketball League, which is now in its 26th season.
The program is the brainchild of longtime New York basketball figure and youth development professional LaMarre Dyson, who has run the league since its inception. It began as the Rod Strickland-Steve Burrt (former Iona College basketball icon) Summer Basketball League, and then bore the name Kyrie Irving-Rod Strickland. The league, held at St. Mary’s Park (148th Street and St. Ann’s Avenue in the Bronx) is a galvanizing community endeavor that promotes mental and physical wellness, social-emotional growth, and the spirit of cooperative achievement.
Games are held on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., featuring 32 teams in four divisions: 8u, 10u, 12u, and 14u. The rain site is I.S. 584 (600 St. Ann’s Avenue). The championships will take place at LIU on August 20.
Dyson is the founder of Young Athletes Inc. (YAI), a Bronx-based nonprofit organization operated out of I.S. 584 that is dedicated to serving disadvantaged youth. YAI offers school- year, Saturday, and summer programs. School-year classes include digital photography, journalism, magazine publishing, robotics, chess, and art.
Strickland, who is in the beginning stages of his second season as the men’s head basketball coach at LIU, which plays in the Northeast Conference, was drafted by the Knicks in 1988 with the 19th overall pick in the first round out of Depaul University. He went on to play 17 seasons in the NBA, retiring in 2005. The godfather of Kyrie Irving, Strickland was All-NBA in 1998, currently is No. 13 on the league’s all-time career assists list with 7, 987, and is a member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.