JULIUS “DR. J” ERVING
Julius “Dr. J” Erving grew up playing pick-up basketball, fighting to stay on the court all day, before winning a Rucker Tournament Championship in 1971, and an NBA Championship in 1983 (with the Philadelphia Sixers). The Hall of Famer’s aerial attacks changed the game. “Doc” is considered the predecessor to Michael Jordan style of play, and a top ten player in the history of the sport.
KENNY “THE JET” SMITH
Kenny Smith is a proud product of the Lefrak Project courts in Queens. He was an All-American at Archbishop Molloy High School and University of North Carolina, and went on to win to NBA championships with the Houston Rockets. He currently is an NBA analyst for the TNT, NBATV, and ESPN networks. He considers his first 3-on-3 victory at Lefrak as his career highlight.
RICHARD “PEE WEE” KIRKLAND
“Pee Wee” Kirkland was Norfolk State’s 1968 CIAA Championship MVP, and the top scorer in the Rucker (when Hall of Famers Julius Erving and Tiny Archibald were his competition). The Chicago Bulls draftee skipped the NBA for a life of crime and wound up in prison, where he once scored 135 points in a game. Pee Wee now coaches youth at his School of Skills program in Harlem.
JAMES “FLY” WILLIAMS
James “Fly” Williams dominated the courts of Brownsville, Brooklyn, before starring at Austin Peay University (TN), where he once led the nation in scoring. He played one season for the St. Louis Spirits of the now defunct ABA. He is considered all-time playground royalty, having scored 90+ points in multiple tournaments around the city. Fly is now running a basketball program for kids in Brooklyn.
COREY “HOMICIDE” WILLIAMS
Corey “Homicide” Williams grew up learning the game at Claremont Park in the Bronx. After playing at Alabama State University and not being drafted to the NBA, Williams returned to New York and traveled from court to court trying to make a name. In 2005, he was spotted at Dyckman Park by a Toronto Raptors coach and invited to try-out. He was the last person cut before the regular season started, and has since become a two-time MVP in Australia’s NBL pro league.
JACK “BLACK JACK” RYAN
Jack “Black Jack” Ryan’s legend started out at East 5th St. Park in Brooklyn. In 1990, NBA analyst and fellow pick-up partner Peter Vecsey arranged a try-out for Ryan with the New Jersey Nets. Even though 29 years of age, he lasted to the final cut before the regular season started. In 2005, Ryan won the ESPN City Slam National 3-point Championship. He is still a regular at the West 4th St. court, where he is an all-time fan favorite.
NIKI AVERY a.k.a. “LIL’ RATCHET”
Niki Avery challenged herself as a young girl by always playing against the boys at the Washington Project courts in Spanish Harlem. She became a star at St. Raymond’s High School and was awarded a scholarship at University of Texas El Paso. After finishing her college career at Western Kentucky, she has been a pro baller in Puerto Rico and Europe. When home, “The Model” hustles men for money by challenging them to shooting games. She always wins the bet.