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Throwback: When Kobe Bryant Graced the Mecca of Street Basketball After His Three Peat with Lakers

Published 06/23/2020, 6:00 AM EDT

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This Rucker Park is considered a renowned court by many NBA legends, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. They achieved great heights in their career. Many players who played there in their high school days are now ruling the league. Moreover, it’s the same park that got featured in a 2018 film, ‘Uncle Drew’ as well.

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The famous Rucker Park on 155th Street in Harlem saw Kobe Bryant take the court after his three-peat that year. That park is considered a Mecca in street basketball to date. 2002 was a big year for the Lakers, as they won another championship to add to their NBA trophies. But Kobe considered playing at that prominent spot a necessity on a rainy day.

The Los Angeles Lakers were on a roll in the early 2000s. The insane duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant created their own era at that time. Despite their off-court differences, their performances together touched another level. The Lakers saw a new high point in their franchise after Magic Johnson. They were back in the championship business as tough competitors.


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Kobe Bryant and many other players have visited the famous Rucker Park


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Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 Finals 4-0. Shaquille O’Neal was the Finals MVP. That season Kobe averaged 25.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. Popularly known to be the Black Mamba, he was clearly at the peak of his NBA career.

In 2002, after becoming a three-time champion, Kobe went to Rucker Park to play a game of basketball. It started raining out there, but he wanted to continue despite the fear of injuries. He averaged 15 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds on that concrete court.


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The crowd was going bonkers with the amount of energy around them. It was the then 24-year-old Kobe Bryant playing street basketball right in front of them. Moreover, it was unbelievable for many to witness him showing his skills at a time in his career when everybody knew him as the greatest player then.

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Also, Kobe is not the only legend to have visited that park. Eminent players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Allen Iverson have found a special place in Rucker Park. Many players have been to the park after gaining prominence, but some actually learned the game there before stepping into the league. Some of those notable figures include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain.

Yes, now it’s fascinating to know how popular Rucker Park was and the pedestal it held in the careers of many great players. Kobe Bryant celebrating his championships there and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar making a mark from that same place. It’s legendary.



Pavni Ahuja

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