Professional basketball players get all of the attention – the big contracts, adulation of adoring fans, endorsement deals – but many say that the true heart of the game remains with the paragons of playground hoops.
These street ball players will get their chance to shine as a new sports competition, The People’s Games, gets set to tip off with its inaugural contest – New York City vs. Los Angeles in an amateur basketball showdown.
The first round of tryouts for the Games will start March 13 throughout the city and will come to Queens at the Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing. More tryouts will follow and with a best-of-three finals series coming in May. Home court advantage will be determined by a ceremonial coin toss.
Players from both coasts will have legends of the hardwood in their corner, as two former basketball greats will coach each city’s team during the Games. New York Knicks legend “Earl the Pearl” Monroe will coach New York’s team and former UCLA great Lucius Allen will coach the Los Angeles squad, giving the amateurs true professionalism on the bench.
“I’m very excited about this and I’m looking forward to coaching the New York team against my old buddy and his L.A. squad,” said Monroe. “We have a certain criteria for people coming out and representing our city.”
Participants in the Games must be a resident of the city they are representing, at least 18 years of age and have no professional experience. Chairman and founder of the Peoples Games, Armyan Bernstein – who is also an award-winning producer and Chairman of Beacon Pictures – said that only allowing amateurs to play was an easy decision.
“We believe there are great athletes out there who, for one reason or another, never got a chance to have their moment in the spotlight,” said Bernstein. “This is the opportunity for them to play for their families, communities and cities.”
The Games will be conducted in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in coordination with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. A portion of the proceeds from the Games will be donated to the local recreation and parks departments in the participating cities.
Additional competitive platforms and participating cities will be announced.
For a detailed explanation regarding the tryouts and team selection process, visit www.peoplesgames.com.