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WNBA "Streetball" In NYC

My best memories of basketball growing up don't come from winning (high school) championships, winning individual awards, or even playing in gyms with D1 athletes, but the classic outdoor battles with friends.

Playing one on one for two hours with a friend after school in the rain. Challenging a friend to one on one in dim light at midnight. Playing outside in 98 degree weather The sweet sound of the ball falling through chain nets. And of course trash talk, most of which should not be repeated here...which is what makes it so great.

So how cool is it that the WNBA will be playing an outdoor game this summer?


Anyway, I know this is not really news to most, but I just got an email about it, so here are some of those vitals:
Score tickets today!

Contact Megan Myers at 212.631.8811 ormegan.myers@thegarden.com

FREE Fan Festival 5:00-7:30pm

Bring your friends and family and enjoy:

• New York Knicks player/alumni appearances
• New York Liberty alumni appearances
• Basketball Clinics and Autograph Sessions
• Interactive Games, Music, Prizes and More!

For more information about the 2008 "Outdoor Classic", please head here: http://www.wnba.com/liberty/news/outdoor_classic_2008.html

So what's so great about outdoor basketball and specifically "streetball"? So glad you asked...

I know this won't quite be an outdoor game like those played on the streets around New York City...but the best way to understand the significance of outdoor basketball is to understand streetball. And to fully understand streetball is to understand what hip hop culture is all about. In fact, the two are almost inseparable.

Both have their roots in NYC -- Rucker Park in Manhattan considered the heart of streetball and the South Bronx being the heart of hip hop. The both represent the rhythm of the street and an outlet for the frustrations that come with the lifestyle. At their best, both put a heavy emphasis on creative self-expression (including the trash talk), spontaneity, and graceful bravado. The swagger, the tattoos, the mean mug -- those have to be understood in the context of fighting for the opportunity to prove yourself and build street-cred, judged by a jury of your peers.

Some will argue streetball is a corruption of Naismith's game -- after all, does anybody really remember who wins And 1 Mixtape games or Harlem Globetrotters games? And really, do you care?

But let's be real: it's street ballers that showed the world how exciting the dunk could be and created that Allen Iverson persona -- palming crossover and all -- that gets the crowd going, love him or resent him. It brought a natural energy and flair to the professional game that wasn't quite there before. It's what made the game "FAN-tastic".

So it's great to see the WNBA bringing the outdoor game and pro game together in a way that's different than taking one piece of it as the NBA does with its annual dunk contest.

Some will undoubtedly question whether women's basketball can capture the energy normally associated with these outdoor games. Of course, I wouldn't expect to see chain nets or refs implementing the "no blood, no foul" standard...but it should still add a boost of energy to the game.

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