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Famed Rucker Park Gets Makeover, Thanks To National Basketball Players Association And NYC Parks Department

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Harlem basketball court famous for nurturing young athletes and even some stars is getting a major assist. It just underwent a major renovation.

CBS2's Natalie Duddridge spoke to aspiring players in the community on Thursday.

"There's a lot of heritage in this court right here and it's a blessing to be right next to it," area resident Marcus Grimes said.

"I'm glad at the fact that they upgraded it and that they made it new," Shakeem Davenport added.

For decades, the Greg Marius Basketball Court at Holcombe Rucker Park has raised street ball icons, even NBA players. But over the years, the court got worn down.

"The court had fallen on some tough times. Parks doesn't have the money always to do everything that we want to do. It had been probably 20 years since there had been capital renovation," said Christine Dabrow, NYC Parks' chief marketing and developmental officer.

So the National Basketball Players Association stepped up, donating more than $500,000 in teaming up with the Parks Department to restore it. The court known as "The Rucker" at West 155th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard now has a shiny new scoreboard, court, bleachers, and two brand new hoops -- the same used in the NBA.

"Making Rucker Park the only park in the world with arena-style hoops," said Chris Jean, senior director of Grassroots Basketball.

Local rapper and artist ASAP Ferg helped design a mural on the court, inspired by the origins of basketball.

"His inspiration came from an old game that was similar to basketball, played by the Aztecs a long, long time ago," Jean said.

Jean said the court has always been place for inspiration.

"A lot of talent would come by whether they played in the pros. Kevin Durant, Nate Robinson, Vince Carter, the list goes on and on, players who are known, players who are neighborhood legends," Jean said.

Last weekend, some of those basketball legends, like Julius Erving, showed up. "Dr. J" helped unveil the new court, promising to continue to support rising talent.

"I can say Dr. J, he came from this court, and he brung it to the NBA," Grimes said.

"I feel like, who knows, we might see new legendary basketball players on this court," Davenport added.

The players say, for the kids coming up, it isn't just a court; it's a place of pride and community development.

"The Rucker" is open every day from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.


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