When you hear of Rucker Park, you think about all the basketball greats who played at that outside park in New York. Crowds packed Rucker Park to watch pick-up games, and the players always give the fans a show.
Kobe Bryant’s 2001-02 season
The 2001-02 season was a good one for Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant just came off a season in which he won his third NBA title, and they were looking to win a third. The NBA started to see the rise of Bryant during this time and knew that he was going to be an exceptional talent in the NBA for years to come.
Bryant did not disappoint during the season. He finished the season averaging 25.2 points and 5.5 assists. His success helped the Lakers become one of the top teams in the NBA again that season. The team was forming a dynasty with the help of Bryant.
Kobe Bryant wins his third straight championship
Going into the playoffs, the Lakers were once again favorites to win another title for the third straight year. The last team to do that was the Chicago Bulls from 1996 to 1998. The Lakers did not disappoint either. The Lakers faced a test in the Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings. It would take all seven games to decide a winner but, the Lakers came out on top, and Bryant was a significant contributor.
During the 2002 NBA Finals, the Lakers took on the New Jersey Nets and had no issues at all. The Lakers swept the Nets 4-0 to win their third straight NBA title. Bryant and the Lakers were on top of the basketball world yet again.
In the 2002 playoffs, Bryant averaged 26.6 points, 4.6 assists, and 5.8 rebounds. A kid out of Lower Merion High School was now a three-time NBA champion at the time. The summer after Bryant won his third straight title, he made a trip to New York and played in a regular pick up game. Just like in the league, Bryant dominated that pick-up game at Rucker Park, and that performance will always be remembered as one of the top performances at Rucker Park.
Kobe Bryant plays at Rucker Park
Bryant, who was 23-year-old at the time, laced up his shoes, and instead of playing for thousands of fans at the Staples Center in LA, he was playing in front of a crowd in Harlem. Playing at Rucker Park can be tough for some people because the crowd is pretty much on the court and all in your face trying to throw you off your game.
While Bryant was playing, defenders were having problems trying to prevent him from scoring. I mean, what did they expect. Bryant is one of the best scorers ever to play the game, and he was disrespecting some of those players at Rucker Park. Whether it was dunking on people, shooting over people, or blowing past people, Bryant had his way.
That performance that he put on in Harlem goes to show how he impacted the game of basketball. Bryant’s legacy will always be remembered.