In the Plainfield Sport News (click here), Noel Pyne has penned a wonderful story about the 16th Annual George "Gee Gee" Brown Memorial Basketball Tournament, which begins Friday, July 27 and runs through Sunday, July 29. I would love to read in-depth history of street ball in Plainfield which, as Noel notes, reigned supreme in the 1970s and 1980s. I grew up in South Jamaica, Queens--another big basketball community--played on the courts at 40 Projects (our name for South Jamaica Houses) and Baisley Projects, in church leagues, and in any driveway that had a hoop. Basketball is still big in South Jamaica, and notable NBA players were drafted from my community.
A friend of mine, Ronald Strothers, has written a history of street ball in Newark during the 1950s and 1960s. His book, titled The Salt Mine: Who Will Tell Your Story? (click here), is a cultural history of Newark and basketball, focusing on street legends Charles Johnson, Cleo Hill, Richard Glover, and George Reynolds, primarily. I highly encourage folks to read it--it tells an amazing story about race, history, Newark, sports, politics, drugs, capitalism, education, and poverty, among other things.
Enjoy the tournament!
*A note: I am by no means a tee-totaler, as those who have shared an ice-cold Corona or Blue Moon ale with me can attest, but I think it is inappropriate for Coors Light to serve as a sponsor for a tournament with a high school youth component. Further, the Recreation Division of our city, which is operating under a cloud right now because of the fraudulent and illegal permit applications it was handing out to businesses and residents for the Plainfield Independence Day activities (and for which the City Council is still awaiting a full accounting), is a sponsor of the annual memorial basketball tournament, along with the Plainfield Public School District. I feel that having a municipality and a school system as promoters of youth events alongside alcohol purveyors sends the wrong message to our young people—many of whom I have seen drinking alcoholic beverages in public around the city—particularly in the library park area. In my humble opinion, it would make more sense to have a NON-alcoholic beverage company—preferably a sports drink company—serve as a major sponsor for youth activities in our city. I enjoy basketball, but I think a little more reflection on the part of the city of Plainfield as well as the district school board is required before co-sponsoring youth activities with alcoholic beverage companies. Be that as it may, I hope that fees due to the city (if any) are collected directly by the clerk’s office, as there are still a number of unanswered questions regarding Recreation’s operations.