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Asphalt Gods: An Oral History of the Rucker Tournament Hardcover – June 17, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (June 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385506759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385506755
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hoops Fan on December 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Great subject, great storytelling. By the way, I played with Rucker legend Billy Rieser (aka White Jesus) and he was hands down the most incredible basketball talent and the most compelling personality I have ever been around. His story is worthy of a volume in itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pixie on June 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is a first hand account of a magical time in New York City basketball history.
The Rucker Tournament drew players from the professional leagues as well as street legends.
I have to be honest, I couldn't put it down.
Nice work from a guy who lived this life with these guys.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marco Santarelli on June 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An interesting book describing the phenomenal basketball
that has been played in Rucker Park. The author
skillfully covers the play of both NBA legends and
incredibly talented locals. A well written
gem that any fan of the game will enjoy!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
An excellent book. Well worth the read. Great read on the history of the fabled blacktop and the man who dedicated himself to making a difference in people lives. Great read on some of the characters to grace the early days of the tournament. you won't be dissapointed getting this book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marco Santarelli on June 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An interesting book describing the phenomenal basketball
that has been played in Rucker Park. The author
skillfully covers the play of both NBA legends and
incredibly talented locals. A well written
gem that any fan of the game will enjoy!!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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