Wednesday, March 30, 2005

30-Year All-City Basketball Team

Check out this great piece by Ted Silary, the Daily News' high school sports writer. He takes a look at the best high school basketball players in Philadelphia over the last 30 years, the time that he has covered the sport in the city. Click here to see his list, including his choice for best player, West Philly's Gene Banks.

I will let you look through the three teams, but I have to ask if there is any doubt that this is the greatest city for basketball in the world? The talent that has come out of this city is unparalleled; keep in mind that this list does not cover the 50s and 60s, when legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Tom Gola and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, just to name a few, starred in the city's leagues and playgrounds. It is a staggering list, filled with names that are familiar to any college or pro basketball fan. That's without taking into account the great coaches (Jack Ramsey, John Chaney, Harry Litwack, Chuck Daly, et al), the Big Five, the 76ers and Warriors, the Philadelphia SPHAs, the Palestra, the Sonny Hill leagues, the Baker League. The game and this city are intertwined, as each is essential to the other's story.

The feature also brought to mind stories that my father has been telling me since I was a kid, ones that featured Wilt or Gene Banks or so many of the great players that have played here for high school, college and the pros. Stories about the legendary games at the Boathouse Row courts. It brought me back to those days as a kid going to the Palestra, the basketball mecca on UPenn's campus, watching tripleheaders all day with my Dad. Days playing on the street with a milkcrate nailed to a telephone pole as a net. Days at the courts at Lemon Hill. Having Wilt sign his autobiography for me at the old Borders on 18th and Walnut, his hand engulfing mine. Cheering for the Sixers with my Grandmother, who loved Moe Cheeks, one of the game's greatest point guards, as much as any man in her life (except me). My own history is just as intertwined, I guess.

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