Kobe Bryant Visits Harlem, New
York for Some Streetball at Rucker Park
|STREET BALL -
KOBE BRYANT STREETBALL AT RUCKER PARK, NY
New York City's Rucker Park
hosts the most fun streetball imaginable. Thursday night,
the Entertainer's Basketball Classic (EBC), the park's
main summer league, presented a matchup of Murda Inc.
against The Source, with some very special guests in
action as well. Inside Hoops (.com) founder Jeff Lenchiner
was in the house to take in the action and filed this exclusive report on Kobe Bryant playing streetball in Harlem.
On one team was Mr. Los Angeles himself, Kobe Bryant.
He showed up early, and his squad was ready to go for
the 6pm tipoff. Things were delayed, because the other
team was late. It was worth the wait, because when they
did arrive, Moochie Norris of the Houston Rockets, Jerome
Williams of the Toronto Raptors and Maryland's Byron
Mouton were with them.
It was on, Harlem-style.
Two non-NBA players who showed nice skills were "Prime
Objective" and Greg Jones.
All night, Moochie Norris kept firm control of the ball
and threw some beautiful passes. As the game progressed,
the showmanship he displayed increased. On fast breaks,
"Muh-muh-muh-muh-Moochie" kept things fun,
going behind the back, faking one way and throwing no-look
passes the other. Norris unleashed showmanship we don't
get to see him display on the Rockets.
And, for those who keep score
at home, Norris' famous afro was contained, and braided.
Maybe he'll unleash it next time.
Jerome Williams showed outside touch, and some surprising
The true star of the evening, Kobe Bryant, had a tense
look on his face, but loosened up as the night progressed.
Early on, his teammates were not taking full advantage
of the fact that he was on their team. Fortunately,
as the game progressed, he got the ball more often.
Early on, when he did have the ball, and multiple defenders
focused too tightly on him, the live announcer yelled
"No double teams! No double teams!" - correctly pointing
out that the crowd wants isolations, which open up the
possibilities for crazy moves and penetration for dunks.
Some of Kobe's highlights:
- In one play, Kobe was isolated on the right side of
the court for a while, put on a nasty dribbling exhibition
while playing to the crowd, drives to the basket, got
bumped, but in mid-air pulled the ball under the basket
for a beautiful reverse layup.
- The very next play, Kobe dribbled, swung the ball
behind his back, but then extended further and threw
a no-look pass to a teammate for a layup.
- Lots of drives with serious hang-time for layups -
mostly reverses, similar to the first play above.
- Sweet passes, including alleyoops from Kobe to his
- A three-pointer from far beyond the line.
- Fun dribbling exhibitions, showing off a few tricks,
and a sick handle.
Kobe did blow one big play, an open fast break with
no defenders back. He tried to go through the legs for
the dunk, but blew it and missed. That drew some clowning
from the sidelines.
All game long, a heckler that was under the basket Kobe
was defending was talking trash, yelling that Bryant
is overrated and not stepping up to play. The heckler
was loud, and even got Kobe's attention (though Kobe
tried not to show it), at one point declaring that Bryant
wasn't bringing it hard like he should. Hannibal, a
Rucker announcer, went over to quiet the heckler down.
When the second half began, and Kobe's team was now
shooting at the basket near the heckler, Bryant began
the half with the ball. A whistle stopped the action.
The very next play, Kobe was working around the paint
with the ball, cleared some room with an elbow, and
then went up and threw down a dunk that looked much
better in person than it did on television highlights
you may have seen. He then glared straight at the heckler,
who was almost directly behind that basket, and glared
at him while backpeddling down the court. The crowd
went nuts, pointing and talking trash at the heckler,
who, at least for a few moments, seemed slightly humbled.
Steve Francis showed up during the game, but he's busy
healing and was just there to hang out and watch. The
crowd went nuts upon his arrival, chanting "Suit up!
Suit up!" over and over, but it wasn't going to
"Three Rings," as the live announcer called Kobe (almost
everyone at Rucker Park who really matters gets a nickname),
got far more comfortable as the game progressed. He
didn't bring it hard all night, but still put on a good
show and produced some sweet plays that the crowd loved.
Kobe Bryant had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists
when the game got called in the second half on account
For those of you who pay attention
to the sneakers that your favorite basketball stars
wear, as InsideHoops.com originally reported, Kobe was wearing Nike sneakers for the game. He last shoe deal was with Adidas, but that recently
After the game, Inside Hoops recorded these comments
from Kobe Bryant: "The atmosphere was cool, it took
me back to playing in Philadelphia, playing on the parks...
There's no atmosphere like Rucker..."
"I had a good time, I look forward to coming down here
again next time."
When asked if he had fun tonight, InsideHoops.com recoreded
these words from Kobe: "I had a lot of fun, you know,
it's all about the game, coming out and playing, too
bad it was raining..."
When asked about how the Lakers may feel about Kobe
playing in a streetball game, Kobe said "They say be
careful, they're really good about things like that...
They just want you to be careful, and stay on your feet."
How much does Kobe know about Rucker history?"A lot,"
he said. "That's why I'm here today."
Rain did end this one early, but the night was fun while