Clear outs, isolation plays, and flashy dunks. Although not officially regulated, street-ball is a form of underground basketball that has been developing simultaneously with professional basketball, as a form of street art complementary to regular basketball. Many players participate in these activities in the postseason to stay in shape and to bring back old memories when they were just having fun with friends in the neighborhood. If it wasn’t for streetball many attractive plays like alley-oops and crossovers would not exist, and the regular games would consist of boring three-pointers and post moves.
Streetball originated back in the 70s in the projects of New York and Philadelphia as a chance for underprivileged kids to get a chance to play basketball if they couldn’t make the team in high-school or just didn’t have the chance to play anywhere else. Streetball evolved to worldwide fame with the more popular Harlem Globetrotters and more recently And One Mixtape videos. Hence, streetball actually influenced some unofficial rules in the NBA. Do you think LeBron James would be tolerated for his three steps if it wasn’t for streetball? Or could James Harden get away with his pushovers and extra steps on his drives to the lane? And most importantly, a lot of plays in regular-season include isolation one on one basketball that is very similar to streetball.
But some NBA players seem to be more experienced and naturally talented in these activities than others, so let’s start with the best.
Also known as Half-man Half-amazing, Vince Carter is the only active streetballer in the NBA. He is known for his game at Rucker Park as well as being one of the best dunkers of all time. Vinsanity was taking over the globe in 1999 when he was scheduled to play at the Rucker Park game during the summer. Due to severe thunderstorms, the game had to be moved indoors to Gauchos Gym. It was almost 100 degrees with no air-conditioning but that wasn’t stopping anyone from filling the gym to the very last seat. the place was packed with 2000 people and when Vince finally came to the gym the overwhelmed crowd exploded with enthusiasm.
Here are some of the highlights of this legendary game that include the famous windmill dunk that was later used as an inspiration for a commercial starring Vince.
Kobe Bryant stated many times he enjoyed playing streetball during the summer in the offseason and added that Phil Jackson doesn’t tolerate that kind of basketball in his coaching. He too participated in the Rucker Park game in 2002 and scored 15 points. More recently, he played in Drew League during the summer before 2011 lockout scoring 45 points on James Harden and eventually hitting the game-winner. Kobe was celebrated for his effort in the Messiah-type celebration, so take a look at the following video.
Maybe the only one in this article that is a street player first and NBA player second. Also known as “Skip 2 My Lou”, this legendary street baller is an NBA retired professional basketball player originally from Jamaica, Queens, also the hometown of rapper 50 Cent. He was the inspiration in many ways to original AND 1 Mixtape that was highly distributed across the United States in order to promote new clothing company AND 1. After becoming famous by playing in streetball events, he successfully transitioned to the NBA. He also played three years in college at three different schools, all in California. He is currently working as a scout for the Minnesota Timberwolves and is entitled to hefty NBA pension plan for playing ten seasons in the league.
Here is a quick snippet of an interview with InsideHoops.com from 2004:
Rafer Alston on being worshipped on the playgrounds:
“The little ones still see me as Skip to my Lou, they don’t know that I’m 28 years old now and that it’s almost time for me to stop playing on the concrete. I can walk in and sit down, and this park (Rucker Park) gives me a great welcome, a great standing ovation, and I love them for that.
Rafer Alston on pulling off streetball moves at Rucker Park:
“I think of it during the course of the game, what I can do, what I can get away with. Everything is a chance. I’ve always lived on the edge; at times I catch myself, but out here I always play the game on edge. I try tricky things, but I feel I’m the type of person that can make it work.”