By Anthony Paradiso
The West 4th Street Courts, aka “The Cage,” is a small basketball cage encircled by a 20-foot-high fence. It is right across the street from the legendary IFC Center movie theater on Sixth Avenue. The West Fourth subway entrance is nearby, on Sixth Avenue and West Third Street. The entrance is marked by the big green sign that reads “West 4th Street Courts” in thick white lettering.
West Fourth Courts games always attract a crowd that spills out onto the sidewalk because the court itself is too small for big crowds. Streetball involves players getting together for pick-up games. They form teams and strike pick-up games on the spot, rather than establishing teams before they gather.
According to nycgovparks.org, the West Fourth Street court is “one of the most famous streetball destinations in the world.” It’s been said that NBA players such as Anthony Mason, who played for the New York Knicks when they reached the 1994 NBA Finals, and Stephon Marbury, former Knicks star point guard, both played at the West Fourth Courts.
Four days before WestView News went to print, I visited the West Fourth Street court, seeking an interview with a player or basketball organizer. Upon my arrival, there were at least 30-40 people there.
I approached a young man wearing a t-shirt that read “MSU Red Hawks.” His name was Edward Emedoh; he said that a men’s league tournament called Kenny Graham’s West Fourth Street had been organized for that day.
After going to the court, I visited the “Unoppressive Non-imperialist Bargain Books” on Carmine Street. Inside, I discussed the West Fourth Street Courts with the storeowners and their son, Tayo Drougas, who told me what he has gathered over the years about the famous court, one of the most popular streetball locales in the world. He’d seen 2012-13 NBA scoring champion Carmelo Anthony, who played for the New York Knicks, play at the West Fourth Street Courts.
“It’s a classic place to play basketball. So many famous players have played there,” Drougas said. “SNL is there all the time filming, and Jimmy Fallon played there once. When you walk by and they’re filming, it’s like Whoa.”
Throughout the summer, Villagers can walk by the West Fourth Street Courts on Sixth Avenue and watch a streetball game. Who knows who you might run into playing there?