Commentary

Why NYC is the best for basketball

Updated: March 5, 2009, 2:34 PM ET
By Ryan Canner O'Mealy | ESPNRISE.com

New York City is known for hoops. And although the Big Apple was upset by Michigan in the semifinals of the Great State Debate, the boroughs still had something to say. Typical.

Five reasons why … Brooklyn goes hard

1. Lincoln playmakers
[+] EnlargeJay-Z
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty ImagesNets part-owner Jay-Z has kept close ties to the sport.
Over the past 15 years, the Railsplitters have had an unparalleled run of success thanks to Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson.

2. Boys & Girls
Playground legend Pearl Washington played here back in the '80s and the program has regained prominence recently thanks to coach Ruth Lovelace, the lone woman coaching a boys' hoops team in the city.

3. Xaverian
The Clippers don't get the ink some other traditional NYC hoops powers do, but the alma mater of NBA legends like Chris Mullin and college stars like Levance Fields takes a backseat to no one.

4. MJ was born here
He might have been raised and played his prep ball in North Carolina, but His Airness drew his first breath in Brooklyn.

5. Jay-Z is from here Before he put a ring on Beyonce, the part-owner of the Nets and close friend of LeBron got his start in BK.

Five reasons why … Queens goes hard

1. Christ the King

Great State Debate

The Great State Debate pits the country's best boys' basketball states against each other to determine which among them is best. In the semifinals, No. 1 New York was upset by No. 5 Michigan. Next up: California and Illinois. Vote!

More Great State Debate

Legendary boys' and girls' hoops programs have turned out prep legends like Lamar Odom, Omar Cook, Erick Barkley and more.

2. Kenny Anderson
One of the greatest high school players of all time, Anderson scored a then-record 2,621 points at Molloy and was the first player to make first-team All-City four years in a row.

3. Jack Curran
Curran has coached at Molloy for more than 50 years, earning more than 900 victories and five City Catholic titles. He has coached NBA players like Kenny Anderson and Kenny Smith. (Editor's note: Check out our Q&A with Curran here.)

4. St. John's winning with locals
The Red Storm have fallen on hard times recently, but whenever they are at the top, they do it with NYC kids. Chris Mullin, Felipe Lopez, Ron Artest, Erick Barkley and Omar Cook all have played for the Queens college.

5. Sylven Landesberg Now a freshman star at Virginia, Landesberg was the undisputed King of Queens last year. Leading Holy Cross into battle against powers like Rice and Christ the King, this McDonald's All-American led the Crusaders to the top.

Five reasons why … the Bronx goes hard

1. The Gauchos
[+] EnlargeKemba Walker
AP Photo/Mike GrollKemba Walker is trying to bring an NCAA title back to the Bronx.
One of the nation's premier AAU programs, the Gauchos have been a player on the national scene for decades. Alums include Chris Mullin, Jamal Mashburn, Kenny Anderson and Rod Strickland.

2. Tiny goes big time
Nate "Tiny" Archibald, out of the South Bronx, was a playground legend as a teenager before going on to great things in the NBA.

3. E-Z Pass
Kemba Walker may have gone to high school at Manhattan's Rice, but he reps his hometown Bronx whenever possible. An electrifying high school star, Walker was a McDonald's All-American in 2008 and is now a key part of UConn's title-contending squad.

4. St. Raymond
One of Rice's chief rivals, the Ravens have produced some of NYC's finest, including McDonald's All-Americans Julius Hodge, Majestic Mapp and Kareem Reid plus former Boston Celtics guard Allan Ray.

5. Rod Strickland
The longtime NBA playmaker first made his name at Truman High in the Bronx. As a senior, he transferred to Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), becoming a McDonald's All-American and jump-starting a legendary program that dominates to this day.

Five reasons why … Manhattan goes hard

1. Rucker Park
Rucker Park
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIRucker Park is the home of street basketball.
The most legendary playground in the country has seen NBA and streetball greats grace its court for decades. Hosts the Elite 24 each summer.

2. Lew Alcindor and Power Memorial
For old-school flair, it doesn't get any better than Alcindor and Power Memorial. Before he changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alcindor recorded 2,067 points and 2,002 rebounds while leading Power Memorial on a 71-game winning streak. He is considered one of the best high school players of all time.

3. Madison Square Garden
The self-proclaimed World's Most Famous Arena has seen legendary basketball at every level for decades. Whether it's high school, college or the Knicks, hoops and the Garden are synonymous. These days, the Jordan Classic is played at MSG, as is the PSAL title game.

4. Rice
A perennial CHSAA power, the Raiders have produced four McDonald's All-Americans (Felipe Lopez, Kenny Satterfield, Andre Barrett and Kemba Walker) plus a recent NCAA champ (Russell Robinson of Kansas).

5. West Fourth Street Courts
Not as well known as the Rucker, but "The Cage" is what pickup ball is all about.

Five reasons why … Staten Island goes hard

1. The Anosikes
[+] EnlargeNicky Anosike
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty ImagesNicky Anosike and her brother are shining examples of Staten Island hoops.
The First Family of Staten Island hoops, Nicky was a star at Tennessee before going on to the WNBA. Younger bro O.D. is a senior at St. Peter's this year and one of the city's best. He'll play at Siena next year.

2. Halil Kanacevic
The 6-foot-7 senior big man has established himself as one of the city's finest.

3. Renaldo Balkman
Outside of David Lee, the most exciting part about watching the Isiah-era Knicks was often the energetic Balkman, who was born on Staten Island.

4. Wu-Tang
The classic rap group has multiple members from Staten Island -- or Shaolin -- and they are known to be big hoop fans. They drop fellow New Yorker Rod Strickland's name on "Triumph."

5. Tristan Wilds
There's not much of a connection between hoops and Wilds, but the Staten Island native's performance as Michael on "The Wire" makes him a favorite among us and countless NBA and college players.

Five reasons why … Westchester County goes hard

1. Mount Vernon
Elton Brand
Getty ImagesElton Brand dominated Westchester hoops.
Coach Bob Cimmino's legendary program has produced NBA star Ben Gordon plus college standouts Mike Coburn, Jonathan Mitchell and Kevin Jones. It's a state title contender every year.

2. Elton Brand
Possibly Westchester County's finest player ever, Brand was an All-American at Duke before moving on to an All-Star NBA career.

3. Denzel is from here
He's most often seen at Lakers games, but Denzel still reps N.Y. The star of classic hoops movie "He Got Game," Denzel donated serious money to help keep Mount Vernon's athletic program afloat this year.

4. Lou Panzanaro
The legendary Peekskill coach recently won his 500th game. He coached Elton Brand in high school and is a member of the state basketball Hall of Fame.

5. Mount Vernon-New Rochelle Rivalry
Always among the best in Westchester County, the cliché about throwing out the records when these teams play is true. Mount Vernon has more talent this year, but New Rochelle scored a big upset win, 82-75, earlier this season.

Ryan Canner-O'Mealy writes for ESPN RISE magazine and ESPNRISE.com. Have a question or comment for Ryan? Leave a message in the conversation section.