Note: The Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC) is the longest running outdoor street ball basketball tournament in New York City. The Reebok Classic Breakout Camp took place in Philadelphia earlier this month.
Last Monday evening, New Yorkers gathered at historic Rucker Park to watch a showdown between the EBC Tournament All-Stars and the Reebok Classic Breakout team.
But mostly, fans lined up to see Shaq.
With Reebok since 1992, Shaquille O’Neal expressed his pleasure at being able to come out and support young talent. Shaq himself never played at Rucker Park, but he declared that his nickname would have been “The Serial Killer.” He showed up sporting his own Attaq IVs and served as celebrity coach for the Reebok team. Harlem native, rapper and former Rucker Park MVP Cam’ron coached the EBC All-Stars.
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Also in attendance: Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel, rocking Allen Iverson’s latest Question Mid, as well as some pretty interesting looking pants. Technically, last year was Noel’s rookie season, but he spent the entire time recovering from an ACL tear (suffered in February 2013) in his left knee. Ready for the upcoming 2014-2015 season, Noel named hip strength as a key area of focus during his recovery.
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Pick-up ball is where it all starts for many players, and participating in events like the EBC is often how a player makes a name for himself. In particular, Rucker Park is home to basketball legends Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
O’Neal, Noel and Cam’ron shared words of advice for all the young and aspiring players out there.
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“Don’t be scared to ask questions. Sometimes people tell you something you may not understand, and you may think you’re too good to ask questions. But ask questions so you understand your business.”
“I’d have to say ‘be humble.’ A lot of guys get to the point in life when they reach success and they change. The number one thing I strive for myself is remaining humble and knowing where I came from.”
“Be a leader, not a follower”
“Second, create your own character—by stealing bits and pieces of your favorite characters, you create your own.”
“Third of all, be up on them books.”
“Fourth of all, just believe. The power of positive thinking.”
Shaq admitted that he has experienced his fair share of self-doubt, especially during his sophomore year of high school. He said, “I heard Dick Vitale say that I was a great player. And then when I got to college, I still didn’t believe I could play at the next level. So you just always have to believe.”
Photo: 2014 Reebok Classic Experience