Tuesday, August 21, 2012
NYC hoops leagues sizzle all summer
By Ian Begley
Another summer, another set of exciting streetball tournaments in New York City.
The summer hoops season wrapped up on Sunday when Team Sean Bell of the Bronx-based Watson Tournament won the Nike Tournament of Champions.
The Tournament of Champions, played on a hardwood court installed in Rivington Park on the Lower East Side, is the annual culmination of the city's street ball circuit.
A number of NBA players, including Ron Artest, J.R. Smith and Kyrie Irving showed up at tournaments around the city this summer, giving fans a chance to watch them play in an intimate setting.
"It gives the people who maybe can't afford to go to an NBA game the opportunity to see an NBA player up close, to get their autograph," Pro City founder and director Ray Diaz said.
Pro City featured several NBA players over the summer, but they weren't alone. Here's a look back at some of the key NYC tournaments.
PRO CITY: Brooklyn's Gary Ervin led The Franchise on a remarkable run to the Pro City Championship.
He knocked down a 25-foot 3-pointer in overtime of the championship game to give the Uptowners a win. In the semifinal, he drilled an off-balance one hander in overtime to give his team a lead in a game they'd ultimately win.
"He was unbelievable," teammate and current Houston Rocket Gary Forbes said.
In its 16th season, the Pro City tournament drew NBAers such as Artest, Irving, Charlie Villanueva, Devin Ebanks, Tobias Harris and Forbes to the Baruch College gym.
"It feels great to be able to operate at a high level like this," Diaz said. "I've done it for 16 years, I'm trying to figure out how we can improve next summer."
HOOPS IN THE SUN: Brothers Randy and Joe Cruz have run the HOOPS IN THE SUN (HITS) Tournament in Orchard Beach for the past 13 summers. It started as a tribute to their late father, Joe (Pops) Cruz.
Pops certainly would have been proud of his boys this summer.
A great run at the beach was capped off by a riveting final.
Bingo's All Stars, coached by Bingo Coles, won its third straight title by coming back from a 16-point deficit against the Sean Bell All Stars.
Former Rice and Manhattan star Keydren Clark scored 17 of his 33 points in the third quarter to help Bingo's to the title.
Randy Cruz said he and his brother are looking forward another successful run in 2013.
"It's great to do something for your community and for the fans who come up here," he said. "We can't wait for next summer."
DYCKMAN: Crowds packed the park at 204th street and Nagle all summer long to watch the Dyckman tournament.
Smith showed up to play a couple of times. As did Sacramento's Tyreke Evans.
The summer culminated in an exciting final with Westchester-based Team 914 topping Harlem's Skull Gang for the title.
"It's been a great summer," tournament founder and director Kenny Stevens said. "The park's been packed."