If you’re a fan of basketball, you know Rucker Park. And since you’re reading a website of hastily constructed basketball jokes, it is therefore safe to assume that you know Rucker Park. That’s called the transitive property. Look it up in a math book, nerd. (Note: This may not be the transitive property. This is not The Math Jones.)
Anyway, Rucker Park is very famous. Everyone who is anyone in New York City has played there, and there have been more than a few non-New Yorkers that have graced the legendary court with their presence. It’s been prominently featured in numerous movies, which isn’t something that can be said about a lot of streetball courts.
And according to Taj Gibson, Atlanta’s often-empty Philips Arena is just like the world’s most famous playground basketball court. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Gibson couldn’t help but make the comparisons to growing up in Brooklyn and playing in the Holy Land of playground hoops — Rucker Park in Harlem.
“Yeah, especially playing here in Atlanta,’’ Gibson said Saturday. “The crowd really gets into it. They love one-on-one play. They look forward to seeing a player get embarrassed so they can just cheer like crazy. It’s just like back home in New York. You go play at Rucker Park, the crowd is all into it. There are a lot of one-on-ones, and this [Hawks] team plays exactly the same way. They do a lot of one-on-one stuff and know how to expose guys.’’
Gibson’s a Brooklyn native who’s played at the Rucker since he was 15, so we should value his opinion when it comes to which NBA arenas are like his hometown pavement. Plus, we’ve all seen the way the Hawks play basketball — lots of one-on-ones, athletic dudes and dunks, which is very Rucker Park. Taj Gibson is a guy who would know, and he makes some very good points.
But Joakim Noah is also a guy who would know — he also grew up in New York and played at 155th and Frederick Douglass — and he also makes some very good points.
Asked about the comparison that Gibson made, however, Noah said, “Man, Taj never played in Rucker. No similarities at all [between Atlanta and the playgrounds]. What’s he talking about? ’Cause there’s black people in the stands?’’
Touché. I’ve never been to Philips Arena, but from what I gather through television viewings, it seems very much like a middle-of-the-road NBA arena rather than a hallowed street ball court. Maybe I am totally wrong about that, but from the one time I’ve played at Rucker Park, it did not feel like I was playing in an NBA arena. I think I will have to rule in favor of Mr. Noah on this one.
Besides, this wouldn’t be the first time Noah’s won an argument using common sense. Ever since he refuted Cleveland’s vacationability, he’s been a trusted settler of NBA disputes as far as I’m concerned.