New York Report: Rucker Park

Spirit of streetball photographer lives on

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
10:00
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Robert NegronIan Begley/ESPNNewYork.comRobert (Surrob) Negron was known in the world of New York streetball for collages like the one shown.
A Bronx man and basketball enthusiast hopes a local professional team can help keep his late brother's legacy alive.

Willie Negron, a Wakefield resident, says he has teamed with the North American Basketball Development Leagues Association to form the New York Lightning, a Bronx-based pro team.

[+] EnlargeRobert Negron
Courtesy of Willie NegronSurrob Negron, pictured with Stephon Marbury, was one of the first to document NYC's streetball scene.
Negron said the team's inaugural season will, in part, be dedicated to the memory of his late brother, Robert (Surrob) Negron, who died three years ago when he suffered a heart attack shortly after playing in a pickup basketball game.

"I'm dedicated, my life is dedicated, 365 days a year, to keeping my brother's legacy alive," Negron said.

The Lightning will have tryouts in early October, Negron said, and the regular season is set to kick off in February.

Surrob Negron was a fixture in the New York City streetball scene for years, beginning in the 1990s. He was one of the first to document streetball with photography, traveling from tournament to tournament to take pictures of players.

"He was a major influence," says Nestor Grant, who founded the Gun Hill Basketball Classic in the Bronx. "He was one of the first I saw who took pictures of the players. He just had a love for the players and a love for the game."

Surrob started taking pictures of summer hoops tournaments while taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. He would pay for his own equipment and film and document the streetball exploits of some of New York City's players, including Rod Strickland.

"He was very instrumental in painting the picture of streetball," said Greg Marius, the CEO of the Entertainers Basketball Classic at the famed Rucker Park.

Surrob liked to make collages with the photos he took. He would make intricate collages of streetball players and some of the most well-known players on the planet, including Michael Jordan and Carmelo Anthony.

[+] EnlargeWillie Negron
Courtesy of Willie NegronWillie Negron says his New York Lightning will dedicate their inaugural basketball season to the memory of his brother.
"His artwork was incredible," said Kevin Christie, a longtime streetball player. "He did a lot for streetball. It was in a dark space when he started taking pictures, but he was the light."

Willie Negron, who works as a school security aide at James Monroe Campus High School, keeps his brother's name alive with his summer hoops team, the Willie-Howie Surrob All-Stars. He hopes to do the same with the New York Lightning.

The streetball scene that Surrob left behind remains vibrant. NBA stars such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving visited some of the city's tournaments over the summer. Their appearances were documented by fans with pictures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook -- each moment captured in a picture.

Surrob Negron would have approved.

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