Located at 63rd and Stoney Island, the second stop of the 12Parks in 12Weeks Tour is known as "The Cages" @ Jackson Park. The mere fact that the court has a nickname says it all. Ironically, the actual caged court was being used for junior high basketball practice, but the real games were across the street in the parking lot next to the lake. In fact, I think this is where the real ballers now come to play. The rims were much better, and there was a lot more space. There are two courts, and they were definitely NBA length, but you know how it is in street-ball, nobody was playing 5on5 when I got there. There had to be 20 guys out there playing 21—a very physical game. Lots of shit talking, too.
The talent level was actually pretty good. Nothing came easy. These guys could shoot and play good defense. The smallest guy on the court was the loudest. He wore a JFK shirt and kept telling people they were too little.
Last week at Washington Park, the game of choice was 32, but at Jackson Park, we played 21, or as they called it, a "V." One of the guys on the court was known for winning v's. He wasn't that big, but he was pretty good, because the ball always seemed to find him. He reminded me of Kawai Leonard from the Spurs.
My shoes caught the attention of a guy sipping a beer on the sideline. He called me over to ask if they were the new Kevin Durants. I told him that, yeah, they were the new Nike KD VI's. He then said, "Damn, why are you playing in those?" Laughing, I replied that they were basketball shoes. I then told him about My Block, My Hood, My City and the 12Parks in 12Weeks Tour and about my goal to show Chicagoans different parts of the city. Chicago is too segregated. My hope is that Chicago will one day be the most connected city in the world.
The KD VI's are low tops, so I've heard that they lack ankle support, but I disagree. They are really supportive and tight fitting shoes. I like the big Nike checks on the front, too. They are bright green, but I think they went well with my cotton gray M3 t-shirt.
I really enjoy the summer time because Chicago parks are full of energy. The parks are our community centers. The parks are the YMCA's. Lots of folks want their communities to get new state-of-the-art community centers with a gym and a computer room, but we can't expect the government to build a community center in every neighborhood. In Chicago, the parks are the community centers. We need to take advantage of them.
It was a great day. Playing ball has always been my passion. I didn't make it to the league, but I still love hoop. Right now, I'm watching the Spurs play the Thunder in Game 6. Kevin Durant is having a good game. Hopefully, I brought him some luck today.
Until next weekend, I'm signing off. See you at Hamilton Park in Englewood. 12 parks in 12 Weeks. My Block, My Hood, My City.
written by Jahmal Cole