From Publishers Weekly
Highlighting a little-known piece of New York history, Mallozzi, a sports editor at the New York Times, documents the Harlem basketball institution called the Rucker Tournament. Begun in the 1950s by young, Harlem-born Holcombe Rucker, the tournaments included some of basketball's great games throughout the decades. Here, such pros as Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain and, more recently, Kobe Bryant pounded the asphalt with local unknowns. Mallozzi, who grew up and played basketball nearby in the 1970s and 80s, has covered the tournament since 1986: "nowhere else could I find the kind of basketball that was being played at Rucker Park, where legends, nicknames, and great rivalries are born every summer." While he celebrates the tournament's past glory (Rucker died of cancer in 1965 at the age of 38), he doesn't shy away from its sometimes controversial moments (many people think it's become simply a hip-hop show and shoe ad, where the game is hardly taken seriously). Mallozzi lends an even hand to this fast-paced tale.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
All basketball fans can identify Magic, Larry, and Michael, but only the hardcore know The Goat, Helicopter, and The Destroyer. The latter all made their reputations as street players in New York City's legendary Rucker Tournament. Mallozzi, New York Times
sports editor and unofficial Ruckers historian, profiles a handful of the tourney's stars from the '70s. Earl "The Goat" Manigault, Herman "Helicopter" Knowings, and Joe "The Destroyer" Hammond were Rucker legends in their day, but each returned to the streets: Manigault and Knowings succumbed to drugs, while Hammond chose drug dealing over the NBA. Rather than decrying the personal tragedies, however, Mallozzi celebrates the games these street legends played: the scoring battles, the in-your-face slams, the Houdini-like ball handling. Readers will especially enjoy the accounts of NBA stars who joined the fray at Rucker's only to have their games handed back to them in a trash bag. With the freestyle Rucker game now the basketball standard, this makes a fitting tribute to the players who pioneered an athletic art form. Wes LukowskyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved