The city of Philadelphia has produced its fair share of basketball legends and stories for the history books. One West Philadelphia neighborhood has the privilege to boast being the hometown of one of the best big men to hit the paint. For decades, the Overbrook area has quietly been a hotbed for talent on the hard court.
Overbrook High School
Nestled at the corner of 59th and Lancaster Avenues, Overbrook has hosted many notable Philadelphians in the school’s hallways. The West Philadelphia high school was known as a basketball powerhouse, producing more than 11 NBA players, including the legendary Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain.
Tustin Recreation Center
Directly across the street from Overbrook High School lives the famous Tustin Recreation Center. Recently, the outdoor courts have earned the reputation as a street ball battleground for different territorial rivalries in Philadelphia. Historically, it is the playground where Will Smith got in a physical altercation, which led to him moving to a town called Bel Air.
Hagen has been the home to the Saint Joseph’s University Hawks since completing reconstruction and renaming of the Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse in 2009. Dr. Jack Ramsay and Jameer Nelson are some of St. Joseph’s greatest basketball legends to walk this court (long before the expansion). The Saint Joseph’s Hawks are the 2014 Atlantic 10 Conference champions and a member of the Philadelphia Big Five.
Parkside Recreation Center
Parkside was one of the original filming locations for the AND1 Streetball mixtapes in the late 1990s. Today, during the summer, the six outdoor courts are full of basketball players from across the city looking to run pickup from sun up to sun down.
The Shepard Recreation Center
Located at 5700 Haverford Avenue, Shepard is the home of the Haddington Courts, the court with the self-proclaimed name of “Heart of West Philadelphia.” The courts at Haddington are family-oriented. There are hoops for smaller ballers and the walls adorned with inspirational murals paying tribute to the city of Philadelphia and its residents. Haddington is also the home of the Mount Pleasant Bulldogs AAU Program.
– Text and images by Julian Hamer.