Asphalt Gods by Vincent M. Mallozzi
An Oral History of the Rucker Tournament

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Synopsis

The real basketball deal–the inside story of Harlem’s legendary tournament and the pros and playground legends who have made it world famous.

Earl “The Goat” Manigault. Herman “Helicopter” Knowings. Joe “The Destroyer” Hammond. Richard “Pee Wee” Kirkland. These and dozens of other colorfully nicknamed men are the “Asphalt Gods,” whose astounding exploits in the Rucker Tournament, often against multimillionaire NBA superstars, have made them playground divinity. First established in the 1950s by Holcombe Rucker, a New York City Parks Department employee, the tournament has grown to become a Harlem institution, an annual summer event of major proportions. On that fabled patch of concrete, unknown players have been lighting it up for decades as they express basketball as a freestyle art among their peers and against such pro immortals as Julius Erving and Wilt Chamberlain. X’s and O’s are exchanged for oohs and aahs in one of the great examples of street theater to be found in urban America.

Asphalt Gods is a streetwise, supremely entertaining oral history of a tournament that has influenced everything from NBA playing style to hip-hop culture. Now, legends transmitted by word of mouth find a home and the achievements of basketball’s greatest unknowns a permanent place in the game’s record.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Vincent M. Mallozzi

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VINCENT MALLOZZI is a native of Harlem who has become the Rucker Tournament’s unofficial historian, covering it for such publications as the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Source, Vibe, and Slam. He was recently elected to the Rucker Hall of Fame for his community service. He is a sports editor for the New York Times.
 
Published June 17, 2003 by Doubleday. 272 pages
Genres: History, Sports & Outdoors, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Highlighting a little-known piece of New York history, Mallozzi, a sports editor at the New York Times, documents the Harlem basketball institution called the Rucker Tournament. Begun in the 1950s by

Jun 01 2003 | Read Full Review of Asphalt Gods: An Oral History...

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