Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC) founder Greg Marius can only recall one player he wishes would've graced the famed court within Rucker Park: Michael Jordan. The NBA legend didn’t suit up when he crashed the park in 2010—instead he chose to taunt onlookers from the sideline as a spectator.
While MJ has yet to make his return to the uptown Manhattan landmark, more than 1,900 anxious fans from the surrounding neighborhood snuggled into the Gouchos’ facility on Thursday night (Aug. 22) to witness another future Hall of Famer, Kevin Durant, in the EBC season finale. During Durant’s last visit in 2011, the three-time scoring champion affixed his name among the ranks of countless legends, with a 66 point outing. Already branded with the nickname Durantula, the 6'9" pencil-thin forward was welcomed back with a new alias: "I know what you did that summer."
The change in venue may have hampered a repeat performance by Durant, but the heightened expectations were still satisfied, as a host of his NBA peers participated in the last competition of the Summer tournament.
"This was a great season," Marius told VIBE after the game. "God blessed me this season. October I was fighting cancer, got rid of that, started the season, everything went great for us, weather-wise, safety-wise, player-wise and then to end it with a game like this with over eight NBA players, I couldn’t ask for anything else."
Durant portrayed mere flashes of his 66 point onslaught, sinking a barrage of three-pointers and racking up 27 points in the first half. Golden State Warriors' tandem David Lee and Kent Bazemore may have stole the show, as the latter garnered the most excitement from the crowd throughout the night.
Former Knicks forward Landry Fields and Duke standout Jay Williams assisted in overpowering Kemba Walker and the EBC All-Stars, 95-93.
Marius bids farewell to his 32nd season at the helm of the Blacktop Basketball Association. His endeavor has far surpassed expectations, warranting the 55-year-old Harlem native to revel in what he has already accomplished. "I just think it’s going to keep growing. We’re going to have people continuing to chase and do what we’ve done,"says Marius who organized the inaugural event between his Disco Four cohorts and the Crash Crew.
"I just envisioned me playing a basketball game against my friends," Marius continues, recalling the leagues beginnings. "I see it going into greater levels because the impact of us being re-partnered up with Reebok. That’s a perfect marriage." —Chris Harris