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My Day Playing on the West 4th St. Basketball Court

SPECTATORS LINE THE FENCES EVERY DAY and weekends to watch both pick-up games, and tournaments played in “The Cage” as the historic West 4th Street Courts are affectionally known. Pictured: Members of the Faith All Stars (in red) and the Brooklyn Stompers play during the Kenny Graham’s West 4th Street Pro-Classic Tournament. Photo by Bob Cooley.

Dear Westview News Editor,

I was happy to read about the West 4th Street basketball court in the July issue. The editor of WestView News told me many years ago about the history of those courts. They were put there by local politician Carmine DeSapio to provide recreation for the youth of the neighborhood, who at the time of their installation were mostly of Italian descent. Interestingly that is how basketball was born circa 1880s in the USA back in Springfield, Massachusetts by Dr. Naismith. The youth of that area had been in the habit of rough indoor play during the winter months in their YMCA. Dr. Naismith invented the game to provide a rigorous indoor activity that had rules and would replace the dangerous rough housing by the youth of his day.  Basketball took off and became popular all over the country especially in cities. Like most city kids, I grew up playing basketball before any other sport and playing it as often as I could. Eventually I would go on to become a starter on my high school basketball team, which reached the ACIS championship. Up to this point, my additional basketball play was at the PS41 courts, Horatio Street courts, and occasionally at the full-length basketball courts in Stuyvesant town. I had walked by the West 4th courts to go to McDonald’s when I had a coupon to get two Big Macs for the price of one, but I had not attempted to get into a game at those courts. As the July WestView article explained, by this time the courts were occupied continuously by high-caliber basketball players who were well into their twenties. One year later, the day after I got back to NYC in May of 1981 after completing my freshman year at Tulane University, I decided I was strong enough physically and skill wise to get into a game at West 4th Street. I was now a physically fit and powerful 6’0 210 lb eighteen year old. It was a Tuesday and I figured if I got to the courts before 10:30AM, it wouldn’t be that crowded and my chances of getting into a game would be good. When I arrived, a five on five game was going on and two sets of five man teams were waiting to play the winner of that game and then the game after that. Games lasted about 20-25 minutes. I claimed “next” after those two games. I was wearing my Dallas Cowboys #11 jersey, which was for the then current quarterback Danny White. Other players arrived and I told them I needed four more players. My teammates naturally called me Danny White. We went on to win our first game (my teammates were all strong players). We then won our second game. By this time, the park had filled up with many sets of teams waiting to get their chance to challenge the current winning team and many spectators had gathered outside the fence to watch the action. We lost game three but I had done what had I set out to do which was to play in a full court game at the West 4th Street court (I actually played in three games and won two of them).

—Danny White (Doric Capsis)

 

The Pandemic is Not Over

I just listened to Michael Moore’s latest podcast, in which he discussed the dire threat of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is wreaking havoc among unvaccinated people; in fact, the existence of large numbers of unvaccinated people is what encourages the development of variant mutations in the first place. The stats are alarming; we are heading to a crisis again.

Simply put, anti-vaxxers are actively spreading misinformation on vaccines, and this misinformation is killing people. Get vaccinated and wear a mask. The pandemic is not over. Death rates are rising again. Protect yourself and others by getting both shots, and wear a mask. The unvaccinated are spreading the Delta variant and endangering us all, but themselves first and foremost.

Please read the article written by Mike’s interviewee, a Dr. Hortez. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01084-x

—Carol Yost

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