Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — Within the past couple of years, the Big Apple has lost both the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game and the Jordan Brand Classic.
They didn’t quite up and move in the middle of the night like the Baltimore Colts, but they did depart for safer havens.
The Boost Mobile left Rucker Park for Venice Beach, Calif., and the Jordan game bolted for North Carolina while Madison Square Garden undergoes renovation.
Into that grassroots basketball void comes Antonio “Mousey” Carela, who, along with friends from Inside Basketball and Anaconda Sports, has launched The Franchise Classic in honor of the late John Strickland.
The first annual game will take place at 7 o’clock Saturday night at Colonel Young Park at 145th St. and Lenox Ave. in Harlem.
In just its first year of existence, the game has drawn an impressive array of local and national talent, including Kyle “SloMo” Anderson, Archie Goodwin, Shaq Goodwin, Martavious Newby, Chris Walker, Chris McCullough and Isaiah Whitehead. (Various blogs on those players are also up.)
“I wanted to do it since Boost Mobile took it away from New York,” Carela told SNY.tv Friday during practice.
“So once my man John Stickland passed away [from a heart attack in October], I said, ‘Let me just do an All-America game.’ Me and Sherman Wing from Inside Streetball, we said, ‘Let’s bring in the best players out of the country playing against the best players from New York.'”
Though the game doesn’t have the market penetration that the Boost Mobile game has, Carela and Wing got Slam, Anaconda and Inside Streetball to contribute.
For some of the players, such as Newby, an Ole Miss commit from Memphis, this is his first-ever trip to the Big Apple.
“It’s a once-in-a -lifetime experience,” he said. “This is my first time and some of the other players’ first time [in New York], so everybody just wants to play hard.”
The players were expecting a tour of the famed Apollo Theater on Friday, and Newby had other goals in mind, too.
“I’m hoping to see a lot of great things, the [Statue of] Liberty,” Newby said. “My coach was saying Jay-Z might come through. It would be great to see him. We just touring around Harlem so far, we gotta go to Brooklyn and Queens.”
Shaq Goodwin is from Atlanta, but his father originally comes from Brooklyn and he has relatives on Long Island.
“I want to go out and see the city though, other than just playing basketball so we’ll see how that goes,” he said.
Archie Goodwin, a 6-5 shooting guard from Little Rock, Ark., said he was proud to be part of the inaugural game.
“It’s cool,” he said. “First time being here. We’re trying to start a new tradition and I’m just blessed to be a part of it.”
FREE THROWS: Jarnell Stokes of Memphis was supposed to attend the game, but but a hip injury prevented him from coming.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.