Julius “Dr. J” Erving was among several basketball legends who turned out Saturday afternoon for the ribbon cutting and reopening of the newly renovated Greg Marius Court at Holcombe Rucker Park in Harlem.
The NBA Players Association (NBPA) came together with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to renovate the famous court. Brand new backboards, rims, and bleachers were installed, plus the park — affectionately known as the “The Rucker” — now boasts a state-of-the-art scoreboard.
The Executive Director of the NBPA, Michelle A. Roberts, was influential in enlisting creative director Set Free Richardson to curate the art for the renovation. Richardson then reached out to Harlem native A$AP Ferg to execute the design.
“To see my name along side Ferg name on the gates outside of the court was a humbling experience!” Richardson wrote on Instagram. We got a chance to tell what Rucker means to both of us and the meaning of the art!”
Ferg, who shot the music video for “Work” at Rucker Park, was emotional as he spoke to the crowd. He spoke about his own memories coming to the games and meeting NBA players as a kid before he revealed the inspiration behind the court’s new design. “What really inspired this court design, because I had so many designs, I spoke to my friend Jaylen Brown. He plays for the Boston Celtics. We was on the phone for hours because I just really was diving for inspiration… He was telling me the history on basketball and he told me about the Mayans.”
“They had this court game where they had a stone wall and the hoop was on the side and they played with a stone ball and they would like, play to death,” Ferg continued. “Basketball was the evolution of that. Doing the research of the essence of this, I stumbled upon a word, Xibalba, which means a place of fright… The hunger and the tenacity of the children that came from the Harlem streets gave us a different type of DNA growing up. Xibalba was a mythological word that the Mayans came up with that meant when you step into this game, you either die or you turn into a God and that’s what this court represents.”
Fat Joe proudly boasted that he’s the winningest coach in the history of Rucker Park’s streetball tournament, The Entertainer’s Basketball Classic (EBC). “I’ll start off by saying that in my will it’s written that my hearse must drive past The Rucker,” Joe said. “Many years, I would have these number one songs at the time. If you know about music, when an artist got a number one song that’s when they go and get their money. But everybody knew, every summer, I would not go get money. I would not perform. I would be coaching the kids here at the Rucker. I lost a lot of money in these summers… The thing that’s so beautiful about Rucker Park is that we always admired [it] and this is the one place that we never forgot the legends that paved the way for us to come after.”
Check out photos and video from the event below:
The legendary Dr. J makes an appearance at the legendary #RuckerPark in #Harlem #NYC as the NBA Players Assoc salutes the basketball legends and the history of the park. #JuliusIrving pic.twitter.com/dRCWev5pAb
— Dean Meminger (@DeanMeminger) October 9, 2021
Continuing a legacy.
The NBPA's refurbishment of the iconic Greg Marius Court at Rucker Park celebrates the rich history of the court and aims to ensure that future generations of players will strengthen Rucker's incredible mark on basketball culture. #NBPARuckerLegends pic.twitter.com/skpaTJQaEa
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) October 9, 2021
Great day, signed the original sign of Rucker Park with all the other legends I look up too.. #RUCKERLEGENDS #ruckerpark #headache @realruckerpark @thenbpa https://t.co/Oa0wYGpYq7 pic.twitter.com/nKne3eNVEX
— Headache (@Headache13) October 10, 2021
Thank you to @TheNBPA @Legends @Spalding Dr. J, Tiny Archibald, @fatjoe @ASAPferg Pee Wee Kirkland @NYCParks and especially Michelle Robert's for spear heading this venture. pic.twitter.com/8hHqytKXs3
— Theruckerbrand (@theruckerbrand) October 9, 2021