Heaven Is a Playground

Heaven Is a Playground

by Rick Telander

In 1974 Rick Telander intended to spend a few days doing a magazine piece on the courtwizards of Brooklyns Foster Park.

He ended up staying the entire summer, becoming part of the players lives, and eventually the coach of a loose aggregation known as the Subway Stars.Telander tells of everything he saw: the on-court flash, the off-court jargon, the late-night graffiti raids, the tire efforts of one promoter-hustler-benefactor to get these kids a chance at a college education.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Sports and Games
  • Rating: 4.19
  • Pages: 236
  • Publish Date: March 1st 2004 by Bison Books
  • Isbn10: 0803294530
  • Isbn13: 9780803294530

What People Think about "Heaven Is a Playground"

We meet kids who dream of getting out of the inner-city via basketball scholarships. He is courted to leave the city and play in Pennsylvania at a prep school.

I know nothing at all about basketball aside from the horror of them being used as potential weapons by bullying kids.

An Eye-Opening inside Look: Heaven is a Playground 5 out of 5 stars Imagine yourself in a basketball game, or whatever sport you love; that rush of adrenaline, the excitement of competition and the amazing feeling you get when you make a good play. On the surface, some seemed to play as a cop-out of daily life, or in Rodney Parkers case, a way to make money ticket-scalping. Basically he was a thirty-six-year-old black, self-educated ticket scalper-street hustler who spent most of his time scouting young playground stars, (Telander 3). Besides Williams and Parker, Telander also met Albert King, then an astonishingly gifted 14-year-old, with promise to go on to the NBA. Even if Telander failed to find any of the former characters, I would love to see how the blacktop basketball atmosphere has changed over the thirty years this book has been released for.

In particular, the book revolves around self-styled basketball agent Rodney Parker, troubled superstar "Fly" Williams, middle-school phenom Albert King, and the various Foster Park youths, all of whom share the same hoopz-driven ghetto universe. Meanwhile, in the world of Foster Park (and Brooklyn, in a sense) he holds a certain amount of respect as a man who can give desperate basketball hopefuls a chance (oftentimes a last chance) at college education and possibly a path towards playing professionally. Fly posses a world of talent, is beloved in the Brownsville projects from which he hails, but is notoriously unstable to the point that he is blacklisted by all but the most desperate college programs and professional teams. The youths at Foster Park alternate from endearing to inspiring to tragic.

Rick Telander, a writer for Sports Illustrated, hoped to spend a few days in New York in order to write a piece on inner-city basketball. Observant and intrigued, his motives for staying bleed through the ink, and as a result enhance the substance and value in the book. His observations do a terrific job of examining the inner-city culture, and what basketball means to these athletes both short and long term.

For example, if a ghetto playground in Brooklyn is heaven for a basketball aficionado, how much of the playground is heaven and how much is hell for the black youth who seem trapped by its relative safety? It is 150 years since Emancipation and still the black man is hunted on the streets of America. What is it about this sport that yields so many outstanding athletes among black youth. I think the case of baseball has something to do with the participation of youth in parts of the world even more desperate than Americas ghettos. Basketball and more particularly football are far more violent sports. Even while author Rick Telander acknowledges seriousness of the ghetto trap for these youth, the tale is overlaid with some sentimental gauze that the home of basketball is really on these playgrounds.

He meets a group of kids that play street ball at Brooklyn Fosters park and he ends up spending his time teaching them how to play basketball. Rick reminded them to play as a team and once they got that back in their heads they one. In Heaven is a Playground Rick Talender gives up on the team and says"All of you are just wasting my time" (Telander Pg.106)." I enjoyed this book a lot because it was about basketball.

In many ways I think that was a beautiful decision. The book itself is ostensibly about basketball and a bunch of kids on a playground in Brooklyn.

A great book about pickup ball in Brooklyn.

Let me know if you'd like me to talk about anything from my books. Six-foot and under league (I'm, a little over 6-1), four-on-four, gym (McGuane Park) so tiny you had to put your foot against the wall to take the ball out.