By Gregg McQueen
This time of year, the legends come to play.
Come June, the courts uptown are typically buzzing with the annual Dyckman Basketball tournament. The iconic streetball event runs through August every summer and attracts elite players from around the world.
But the basketball courts at Dyckman Park currently stand vacant, the rims and hoops removed from the backboards.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, courts across New York City are still off limits in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus.
It’s a loss like no other for diehards yearning for the familiar swish of nylon and cinematic plays.
“It’s intense,” said Dyckman Basketball founder Ken Stevens. “It’s what summer basketball is supposed to look like. The crowd is so electric, you feel it’s like a college or NBA championship.”
The tournament’s outsized reputation has also drawn a host of hip-hop luminaries and NBA stars to Inwood.
“I’ve watched Kemba Walker, Kyle Anderson, Kevin Durant, JR Smith, Carmelo Anthony,” Stevens said. “We’ve had so many NBA guys at the park every summer. It’s inspirational for the younger kids to see what they can become.”
This year’s tournament, which would have kicked off on June 8, was scrapped due to the pandemic.
For Stevens, the decision to cancel the tournament was a necessary one for public health, but still a tough pill to swallow.
“This would have been our thirtieth year,” he Stevens. “It’s really disappointing to not be doing this tournament right now.”
Stevens said the event’s cancellation will have a ripple effect on the development of young players as well as local employment.
Read more: Ballers’ Break | Manhattan Times