Holcombe Rucker Park

Greg Marius Court

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This basketball court is named in honor of Gregory Marius (1958-2017), founder of the popular Entertainers Basketball Classic at Rucker Park. Born in Harlem on March 18, 1958, Gregory Alexander Marius was a lifelong Harlem resident.

Marius founded the Entertainers Basketball Classic in 1982, when he was a young rapper in with the Disco Four. Initially organized as a tournament between rival hip-hop crews, Marius’s basketball showcase ingeniously connected the worlds of basketball and hip-hop. Expanding on Rucker Park’s existing history as a place where neighborhood talent could play sports celebrities, Marius invited basketball stars to the weeks-long tournament. The growing number of players from the National Basketball Association (NBA) drew enormous crowds, and in 1984 the tournament moved from Fred Samuel Playground (formerly Readers Digest Park) to Holcombe Rucker Park.

Since its founding, NBA superstars like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Lebron James, and Shaquille O'Neal have held court at the Classic. In the 1990s, Marius expanded his vision integrated entertainers like Michael Bivins, Fat Joe, Jay Z, P. Diddy, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Mary J. Blige in the program. Political and business leaders such as United States President Bill Clinton and NBA Commissioner David Stern have also joined the jubilant crowds at the Entertainers Basketball Classic.

On April 22, 2017, Gregory Marius passed away after his battle with cancer, but his legacy will live on in Harlem. Gus Wells and Cordell Marius, co-commissioners of Entertainers Basketball Classic, will keep Gregory Marius’ dream alive. In June 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio named Rucker Park’s basketball court Greg Marius Court, after the man who helped changed the culture of streetball in New York City.

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