ESPN has a pretty cool feature on the death of playground basketball in America that touches focuses a portion of the piece on the courts of Philadelphia. It's certainly worth a read for pretty much any person who took a ball down to the park as a kid and went at it with the best the neighborhood had to offer.
It's a long read, so finding a snippet to tease was tough. One nugget I had never heard before was how Julius Erving first earned the nickname, "The Doctor." It allegedly first happened in New York at Rucker Park, according to the ESPN piece. And just checkout the name dropping in this graph:
This is where Julius Erving shucked the nickname given to him by a Rucker announcer -- The Claw -- and argued to be called The Doctor. This is where Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury, fresh off being selected as the No. 1 and No. 4 picks, respectively, in the 1996 draft, partnered for a dream backcourt; this is where Rafer "Skip to my Lou" Alston went from local legend to NBA player; and this is where Kareem, Dominique, Wilt, LeBron, KD, Kobe and so many other first-name-only star players have dropped in for at least one game in their respective careers.
You can actually watch Julius discuss the origin's of "The Doctor" on a guest appearance with Charlie Rose on CBS here. Erving says he and his buddy called each other "The Doctor" and "The Professor," respectively.
"He said I had a lot of different moves," Erving said. "More moves than Carter has liver pills."
Yes, I had to look that explanation up.
But back to the ESPN piece, as the story goes playground ball is too dangerous for players who have dreams of someday earning a living playing the game of basketball. Or even for some who have dreams of earning a college scholarship thanks to their skills on the hardwood.
You can learn more about Julius' days at Rucker Park from his NBA TV documentary below.
>>Playground basketball is dying [ESPN]