Stephen Curry: ‘Anybody Who Knows Harlem Knows What It Means to the Game of Basketball’
As Rucker Park gets a makeover thanks to the NBPA, Under Armour’s Curry Brand rejuvenates the spirit of the game by connecting neighborhood youth with equipment and instructional opportunities
Curry Brand, powered by Under Armour, supported last weekend’s reopening of Rucker Park, the playground basketball mecca in Harlem that has long been a stage for NBA and streetball legends alike—and a community focal point at 155th and Frederick Douglass Blvd.
Despite its cultural prominence, Rucker’s facilities had fallen into disrepair in recent years. And the hoops were even taken down in 2020 as a social-distancing safety measure in response to COVID.
But the action was in full swing on Oct. 9, with the National Basketball Players Association having spearheaded a makeover of the court while funding new programming at a nearby community center. The unveiling included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, clinics, games and more. To complement the renovation, Curry Brand will invest in long-term initiatives to support youth athletes in the neighborhood and throughout New York City.
Through an existing partnership with the nonprofit Good Sports, Curry Brand will provide new equipment and uniforms over the next three years to six youth basketball organizations that reach across NYC’s five boroughs.
In collaboration with the NBPA—which represents all current NBA players—Curry Brand will also host four youth clinics each year at Rucker Park, with the first taking place during the brand’s neighborhood block party on Sun., Oct. 17. The block party will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is open to the public.
Games will begin at 3 p.m., with top boys and girls youth players from the New York City area facing top players from Team Curry, which is part of the Under Armour Association circuit (the company’s national grassroots basketball program). The winner of the boys and girls game will each be awarded $15,000 from Under Armour to put toward a community basketball program of its choosing.
Named after Holcombe Rucker, the NYC playgrounds director whose youth basketball tournaments and educational programs benefited thousands of students, Rucker Park is where eye-popping styles of play have influenced the game for generations. The new court renovations include a leveling and redesign of the playing surface, plus new bleachers, benches, backboards, baskets and a scoreboard.
“The Rucker has been Harlem’s gift to basketball, so the NBPA agreed that renovating the court was at least one way we could say ‘thank you’ to the community,” says NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, who grew up on the other side of the Harlem River in the South Bronx.
While Curry himself won’t be at the Oct. 17 block party, his commitment to the neighborhood, changing the game for good and creating opportunity for talent – no matter the circumstance – is always prevalent, including in the recent ‘In The Neighborhood’ spot just released by Curry Brand.
Also, Curry Brand will soon reveal an additional partnership with another cultural institution that traces its roots across generations and back to Harlem.