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Celebrity streetball tournament brings hip hop and hoops together at Barclays

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One of the top summer basketball tournaments in the world made its first showing in Brooklyn, as the Entertainers Basketball Classic America Celebrity Basketball Challenge took to the boards of the Barclays Center last Sunday.

Entertainer Basketball Classic, an extension of the legendary Rucker Park streetball tournament played for more than 30 years at the renowned Harlem Park, brought a special event to Brooklyn July 27 that saw the sports and hip-hop communities come together.

The challenge featured three games and a concert series that had plenty of Brooklyn flavor.

Bedford-Stuyvesant rapper Fabolous served as the celebrity coach one of the two New York squads. Fabolous’ squad, which included guard Erving Walker, a Brownsville native and former Florida University star. beat Team Los Angeles in the opening game. It ended up losing in the final to Team DMV (representing Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) coached by rapper Wale.

Despite the tough loss, Fabolous was excited that the tournament was in his borough and it got a taste of the classic streetball tournament.

“I think it’s really cool that it came to Brooklyn,” Fabolous said. “We get a lot of street tournaments in the borough, but for Rucker to bring it to Brooklyn — it’s dope.”

The event was hosted by Power 105.1’s Breakfast Club and DJ Clue and featured live performances by Jadakiss, Elle Varner, Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, and Crown Heights’ own Troy Ave. A good number of NBA players took to the court as well. Austin Daye (San Antonio Spurs), Jordan Hamilton (Houston Rockets) Scottie Hopson (Cleveland Cavaliers) and former Duke standout Nolan Smith put their games on display for the fans.

The Entertainers Basketball Classic was founded by Greg Marius in 1982 and the tournament has attracted fans from all over the world. It has featured players like NBA most-valuable-player Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Garnett, and Coney Islands’ Stephon Marbury. The fans at the Barclays Center got a taste of the atmosphere at Harlem’s Rucker Park.

“I just performed up at the Rucker two or three weeks ago,” Troy Ave said. “You’ve got to go all the way up to Harlem for the Rucker, so for it to be here is ill. It’s a hop, skip, and a jump away.”

Newly acquired Brooklyn Nets point guard Jarrett Jack played his first game on the Barclays Center floor since signing. Jack scored 12 points in the first half of the final to help Team DMV win the championship.

The venue also had some notable stars sitting in the stands to enjoy the festivities. LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Teyana Taylor and Bedford-Stuyvesant’s own Maino came to check out the action.

“Basketball has always been a part of our culture,” Maino said. “Having it here in Brooklyn was great.”

LL Cool J has been going to Rucker Tournaments for years, and he marveled at watching ballers from all walks of life play under the bright lights of the Barclays Center.

“To see streetball played at an arena like this, I think it’s amazing,” the rapper and actor said. “To see hustlers throw $10,000 in the air on games, to seeing crazy crossovers, the overall experience has been amazing.”

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