The Entertainers Basketball Classic in Harlem, New York is probably the most storied Streetball leagues the game has ever seen. The court alone, the Rucker Park at 155th Street and 8th Avenue, is hallowed ground and has had some legendary players grace the court. Some of these greats are hall of fame NBA players while others are Streetball legends. Legendary players like Dr. J, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Connie Hawkins and Wilt Chamberlain are some of the legends to have graced the court in the past. For many players around the world this tournament had become a rite of passage. If you didn’t play at the Rucker you couldn’t possibly call yourself a baller. These guys came to Rucker Park to play a version of the game where style was essential to the substance. If you won acceptance there then you knew you were good enough to play anywhere.
The modern era of the Rucker Park tournament was known as the Entertainers Basketball Classic or EBC for short. Founded in 1982 by Greg Marius, the EBC would would carry on the tradition set forth by the predecessors and bring out the best players in the world to play in Harlem, New York. We’re talking about players like Allen Iverson, Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant (Click on photo above to watch Kobe play at Rucker Park) just to name a few. The EBC also brought out famous Entertainers such as Jay Z, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Fat Joe to sponsor teams. Greg Marius was the first person to mesh the hip hop world with the basketball world and was hugely successful in doing so. The games were larger than life and just to get into the park would be a daunting task as the lines stretched down the block and around the corner. The EBC has such a rich history that its nearly impossible to list all the notable players who have played in the tournament or who have been affected in some way by it. Players earned their names at this very tournament and wear those names like a badge of honor. Click on the picture below to watch Kevin Durant’s record setting 66 point game at the EBC:
Many people overlook the announcers job but truth be told, they are the catalyst for an exciting game. Announcers Al Cash, Duke Tango, Hannibal, EJ and Boobie Smooth the Politician are the notable announcers of the world famous EBC. They brought a flair to the park that was needed in order to enhance the atmosphere at The EBC. They were able to bring excitement to the game. In my opinion, a Streetball game without the announcers would be boring. They all have their own personalities and originality that makes watching the games that much more entertaining. They bring color to the game and give the players added incentive to play well and give the crowd a flashy move or two. They all made the the EBC the place to be for a basketball fan and made it an enjoyable on a warm summer day in Harlem. Currently my favorite announcer at the EBC would be Mic Larry. His charisma and enthusiasm make the games exciting and brings the best out of the players. He seems to have taken a page from all of the previous announcers and created his own book. He can make a bad game sound good.
The Legacy of Greg Marius
Although I never got a chance to meet Greg personally I respect what he has done for the basketball culture. He was a ground-breaker and someone who wasn’t scared to take risks for what he believed in. On April 22nd, 2017 the basketball world was shocked when we all learned that Marius lost his battle with cancer at the age of 59. He had so much more living to do and so many more plans for himself and his brand. He had influenced the basketball culture so much. The EBC was truly a destination that people from around the world would want to visit, and this was all because of Greg. He touched a lot of peoples lives and was such a generous and humble guy. He was a legend because he created the platform that brought together people from all walks of life in a celebration of basketball culture and music. Now a new generation aims to continue Greg’s legacy.
The Post Greg Marius Era
Greg wanted to keep the EBC in his family and a few years ago began the task of grooming his nephew Cordell Marius for the job of commissioner. He knew that the basketball culture had shifted and the new generation was young, vibrant and full of life. Cordell brings new energy and life into the commissioner role. Having watched his uncle be successful at bridging the basketball world with the entertainment industry, Cordell aims to use the same recipe for success. One tools that will help EBC garner attention is social media. Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook will enhance the message and get the word of EBC to the younger crowd.
I watched Cordell Marius as he embarked on his new role as commissioner during opening day at the Gauchos gym in the Bronx, NY. He was doing whatever it took to make the day a success. He did everything from sweeping up the court to greeting guests. It was right there where I grew a healthy respect for him and his work ethic. I had no doubt in my mind that the Entertainers Basketball Classic was in good hands moving into the future.
I got the opportunity to sit down with Cordell and pick his brain about his new role. He’s a very humble and poised young man who just wants to do right by the brand his uncle gave him. He is trying to revitalize the EBC and knows that in order to get his brand back to prominence he’ll have to have the people’s attention from June to June all year long. Social Media and having a web presence seem to be a priority at the moment. Click on the link below to listen to the interview:
Earlier this summer New York City mayor renamed the Rucker Park courts after Greg Marius. Cordell was on hand to present the mayor with an honorary jersey with his name on the back. It was a bitter sweet moment for the Marius family as Greg Marius’ hard work and dedication was posthumously honored. Also, A $5,000 check was donated by the New York Knick franchise and another $5,000 check was donated by Brooklyn basketball great Albert King on behalf of himself and the Brooklyn Nets.
Cordell Marius aims to give the people a healthy mixture of entertainment and basketball. He wants to bring back the big artists and NBA players attending games and sponsoring teams and is creating a campaign to do so. Hip Hop is so important to the culture and will be instrumental in getting the EBC back to where it’s supposed to be. Creating a tournament that helps the community and that keeps youth busy and off the streets is a high priority for Marius as he moves forward. He wants to use the same tactics that his uncle used but infuse those tactics with a young spirit and flair. He has really put forth an effort to emphasize the youth games and has made the High School games high on his list of priorities. Additionally, Cordell added that he possesses the same hunger and drive that his uncle had and that he has no doubt in his mind that he is the right person for the job. We look forward to seeing what is in store for the him and the EBC brand.
The torch was passed to Cordell and will continue to shine bright. The dream that Greg had for his brand will manifest because of hard work and dedication to keeping his name alive. The world famous Greg Marius basketball court at 155th Street in Harlem will always be the Mecca for Streetball. We here at AllThingsHoops.com thank Cordell and the entire EBC family for showing us so much love and hospitality. For more information on the Entertainers Basketball Classic please visit EBCruckerpark.com. Also, check out the Entertainers Basketball Classic growing presence on Social Media.
Legendary Entertainers Basketball Classic Moments: