The 9 Best Pickup Games In The United States

Every big city has that one court where you go to prove your skills. The place where NBA players drop in unannounced and local legends make their name. Here are 10 of the best places to prove yourself, places where #GameRecognizeGame, brought to you by Reebok Basketball.

1. Rucker Park, New York City

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Rucker Park is arguably the most famous streetball venue in the world. Pickup basketball games were started there in 1946 by teacher and coach Holcombe Rucker. Today the park holds an annual tournament that brings in the best players from all over the world.

Notable Alumni:
A Who’s Who of NBA superstardom has played at Rucker Park, including past legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, and current stars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant.

2. Venice Beach, California

InSapphoWeTrust / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Via Flickr: skinnylawyer

The pickup games at Venice Beach were the setting for the ’90s movie White Men Can’t Jump. Unlike many of the cramped and fenced-in venues of New York and Chicago, these palm tree-lined courts are located right on the ocean.

Notable Alumni:
As you’d expect in LA, this court has seen a mix of stars from the NBA and Hollywood. In recent years the court has hosted Kevin Love, John Wall, and Kevin Durant.

3. “The Moss,” Mosswood Park, Oakland

Tone Gladys / Via youtube.com

The Bay Area has given birth to some of the game’s best players and many of them took their skills through these courts in downtown Oakland.

Notable Alumni:
Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, and Damian Lillard.

See the full video here.

4. Clark Park, Philadelphia

kwbridge / CC BY 2.0 / Via Flickr: kwbridge

This recently renovated court on a tree-lined section of West Philly has a long history of heated games.

Notable Alumni:
Joe “Jellybean” Bryant (Kobe’s dad).

5. “The Cage,” West 4th Street, New York

uriba / CC BY 2.0 / Via Flickr: uriba

Located right off the sidewalk in Greenwich Village, “The Cage” has long been a popular spot for New York tourists and basketball fans to stop and catch a bit of a game when passing by. The half-sized court makes for extremely fast-paced action.

Notable Alumni:
Julius Erving, Walter Berry, Jayson Williams and Anthony Mason.

6. “The Cages,” Jackson Park, Chicago

Getty Images

Chicago has its own courts called the “The Cages,” located off South Lake Shore Drive in the former site of the 1893 World’s Fair. The court draws the best streetball players from all over Chicago and was one of the settings of the 2002 video game Street Hoops.

Notable Alumni:
President Obama is rumored to have played pickup games in the park when he lived in nearby Hyde Park.

7. Baisley Park, Queens, New York

Shawn Ashley / CC BY 2.0 / Via Flickr: 57637970@N05

These courts in South Jamaica, Queens, have for years been the basketball proving grounds for streetballers representing Queens.

Notable Alumni:
Rafer Alston (known as one of the greatest streetballers of all time) and Lamar Odom.

8. Green Lake Park, Seattle

Robert Brown / Via youtube.com

The Northwest doesn’t have the same basketball pedigree as New York, but you wouldn’t know it by the level of intensity and skill on display at Green Lake Park. The court is home to Battle at the Lake, an annual five-on-five tournament, that draws a number of Seattle-born NBA players.

Notable Alumni:
Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford, and Nate Robinson.

See the full video here.

9. Barry Farms, Washington, D.C.

Barry Farms is located in the heart of D.C. and hosts the Drew League, which regularly features drop-ins from assorted NBA stars and Georgetown Hoyas.

Notable Alumni:
Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and Gilbert Arenas.

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