Rucker Park Tournament Restarts With Increased Police Presence
HARLEM — Hoops at the famed Rucker Park, where five people were shot last week, jumped off again Tuesday night — but not without an beefed up police and security presence.
The crowds at the Entertainer's Basketball Classic at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 155th Street were thinner than before the shooting. Still, two games were played without incident.
"It feels good," said tournament founder and CEO Greg Marius, who had 16 security guards, six more than last week. "If the weather is good, the crowds will return."
Police prevented the tournament — which draws professional players and some of the best streetballers in the country — from restarting Monday because they were unsatisfied with security arrangements, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Tuesday.
"There was a discussion with the organizers and the precinct commander [Monday] evening, and the commander was not satisfied with the amount of security, so we suggested they shut it down for the evening," Kelly said. "We'll see what happens from here on out."
The shooting on July 26, which may have erupted after an argument or heckling over a bad call, left the five victims with non-life-threatening injuries. Hundreds of people were captured on video, posted on WorldStarHipHop.com, scattering from the courts.
Former New York Knick Nate Robinson was in the crowd, police said, but was not hurt.
Ricardo Laing, of White Plains, was later arrested and charged with five counts of attempted murder.
He was arraigned Tuesday night at Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment, according to the criminal complaint.
His next court date is Friday.
On Tuesday, cops stood at the entrances to the basketball court and a mobile command unit and several police vehicles sat outside. Beyond the increased police presence, there were several signs with an anti-violence message.
"Stop the violence in the park," one sign read.
"Entertainer's Basketball Classic Against Guns & Violence," read another.
"I would like to thank the NYPD for their support," announcer Hannibal "The Most Electrifying" said during the second game.
Hannibal said he brought his two sons, ages 7 and 9, to Tuesday night's game to show his confidence in the safety and security at the tournament.
"I feel better with the police here. I feel very comfortable," he said. "The crowds can now see that we are back. Before, people were skeptical."
Marius said the tournament will continue Wednesday with increased security.
Also returning was Lorenzo Delloiacovo, a 16-year-old point guard visiting with a group of players from a basketball camp near Torino, Italy. Delloiacovo and his teammates showed up Monday only to leave disappointed that no basketball was being played.
"It was a great game with great passion," said Delloiacovo, who said his only complaint was that too many fouls went uncalled. "I felt safe with no worries.
"I just enjoyed the game," he added. "It was like coming back home."
Staff Writers Ben Fractenberg and Irene Plagianos contributed reporting.