Monday night, the NBA's back-to-back leading scorer Kevin Durant, showed up at the famed Rucker Park basketball court in Harlem and added to the lore of it's history, going for 66 points in a thrilling win at the park's competitive Entertainers Basketball Classic.
By KEVIN CHILL HEARD
If you hadn’t heard the weather report, it was “Raining 3-pointers” last night at Harlem’s famed hoop heaven, known to most New Yorkers and hoop fans world-wide, simply as “The Rucker.”
Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the last two NBA season’s leading scorer dropped in at the Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC) Monday and went “Ber-Nard” King for 66 points, as his DC Power team beat the Sean Bell All-Stars.
Not since Paul Crewe laced up for the Mean Machine and went Peyton Manning on the prison guards, has a professional athlete of a team sport shown up to a non-professional game and so publicly dominated the competition (Though it was rumored that while locked down at Leavenworth, Michael Vick stayed in football-shape tossing touchdowns in a prison pick-up game – playing QB for both teams!).
Not that the competition at Rucker Park is a cake-walk. The Harlem New York playground has been and still is the Mecca of street ball royalty.
Tucked just on the other side of the Harlem River, NBA stars have long sought out the famed green and red court to test their skills against street hoop history. Kobe Bryant once played at the EBC for Irv Gotti’s Murder Inc. squad and in 1957 Wilt Chamberlain almost “tore the place up.” Both Allen Iverson and Kevin Garnett made the hajj to Rucker Park before going pro, just as many before them had done, to possibly pay homage to the most heralded street ball court in the world.
Legendary ballers like “Pee Wee” Kirkland and Earl “The Goat” Manigault ruled Rucker Park in their heyday and were hailed, arguably, as the best ball players on the planet!
And just to put Durant’s 66 points in perspective, verses Rucker Park lore, the park record belongs to a dude named Joe “The Destroyer” Hammond, who it’s said that after scoring 50 points in one half against Julius Erving in the early ‘70s, returned to the Rucker Tournament in 1977 – after a four year vacation – and set the tournament record with a mind-boggling 74 points.
And just in case you still thought that Durant racking-up his 66 points against the Sean Bell All-Stars was like fishing in a goldfish bowl, just know that in the May IS8/Nike Spring Classic, the Sean Bell All-Stars drubbed an opponent 105 to 51. And Monday’s Sean Bell squad had Chicago Bulls guard John Lucas III playing with them – and Kevin Durant still treated them like Meadowlark verses the Washington Generals.
By the end of the game Durant was being double and tripled-teamed, but as it turned out, it probably didn’t matter if he was being “whole team-teamed,” because like Lamar Mundane, this kid was money.
Needless to say, that while other NBA stars are talking about playing in China and Italy during the league’s lockout (now a month long), don’t be surprised if Durant, who is barely 22 years old, shows up at your local rec center and drops 159 points in the “skins against the shirts” championship game.
You can follow Kevin Chill Heard on Twitter @houseofchill