Written by Scarlett Hill | Edited by Nathifa King
Photo Credit By: @itsmarquisg
In the heart of Brooklyn, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, basketball lovers from all corners of New York gathered at Brooklyn Bridge Park for an unforgettable event. The HealthJox Festival 2023, held on July 29, 2023, was a celebration of Harlem’s rich basketball legacy, a day filled with dazzling skills, and a moment to honor legendary Harlem & Brooklyn Basketball legends. What made this day even more special was the presence of Brooklyn District Attorney – Eric Gonzales who bestowed Citations from Mayor Eric Adams upon these remarkable community leaders. In this article, we delve into the excitement and magic of this spectacular day for basketball aficionados.
Music Meets Sports
Many athletes attended HealthJox Festival summer events including some of NYC’s basketball elites and community leaders. Newly appointed Director & Youth Coordinator – Hercules E. Reid presented an award to Hip Hop artists – Kyle Richh, Jenn Carter 41, TatTa, and Phresher for the charity work that they do in New York City.
Harlem’s Basketball Legacy Meets Brooklyn
Harlem has a storied history in basketball. It’s the place where legends were born, skills were honed, and dreams were nurtured. Names like Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have graced Harlem’s courts, leaving an indelible mark on the game. In addition to these great athletes, there were community leaders who have made a great impact in Harlem, Brooklyn and the world. These pioneers and their successors have set the stage for us to enjoy these historic moments in history.
The work continues throughout New York City with the biggest borough for high school basketball – Brooklyn, NY. Organizations like HealthJox is forging the next generation of Community Leaders like Dewry DuRoi Bradford, Zak Solomon and Rueben McLaughlin – owner of the newly established ABA Team called the “Coney Island Thunder”.
The HealthJox Experience
The HealthJox Festival wasn’t just about basketball games; it was an immersive experience for fans of all ages. The festival featured interactive zones where attendees could test their own basketball skills, meet and greet with Harlem legends, and even attend basketball clinics. The atmosphere was electric, with music, food, and vendors adding to the festive ambiance.
Mayor Eric Adams’ Citations
One of the most anticipated moments of the day was when Citations issued by Mayor Eric Adams and distributed by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, took the stage to honor Harlem’s basketball legends. It was a testament to their impact on the sport and the community. The HealthJox Festival – 2023 paid homage to this heritage by bringing Harlem’s basketball elite to the heart of Brooklyn. These Citations celebrated not only their athletic prowess but also their contributions to the cultural fabric of New York City.
Meet the Legends
The HealthJox Festival 2023 brought together a star-studded lineup of Harlem Basketball celebrities. Fans had the opportunity to meet and chat with their childhood heroes. From dribbling drills with Earl “The Pearl” Monroe to three-point shooting contests with modern-day stars like Kemba Walker, the event offered a unique chance for fans to connect with the game they love.
The list of recipients include:
- Bob McCullough, former NBA player, co-founder of Rucker Pro Tournament and founder of Each One Teach One whose mission is rooted in fostering holistic growth in the countless participants it has served, have been instrumental in the development of a multitude of youngsters’ skills on the court, with many who have gone on garnering athletic scholarships from colleges as well as playing professionally.
- Phillip Rucker: Son of Holcombe Rucker – founder of Fundamental Community Solutions which creates major opportunities for Youth in New York City so they can reach their potential.
- Stacey Marius & Cheryl Marius: Directors of Entertainers Basketball Classic and surviving sisters of founder Greg Marius, continues the legacy of a powerful staple in Harlem for the Youth of New York City.
- Missionary Bishop Lester Bradford: Founder of Exousia Cathedral, with over 30 years of missionary work locally and abroad, he launched a program called “Brownsville Shines”that annually provides food, clothing, technology, and toys to Brownsville residents throughout the year.
- Coach Ted Gustus: Former PSAL Basketball Commissioner for Brooklyn who founded the One Breath Foundation in Brooklyn to teach Youth the importance of “breath” and healthy activities through podcasts, tournaments, and basketball training programs.
The highlight of the festival was, of course, the basketball showdowns. They hosted a slam-dunk contest during half-time. Harlem’s finest took to the courts for thrilling exhibition matches. The games showcased the extraordinary talent and charisma of these legends. The crowd roared with every slam-dunk and three-pointer, making it a day to remember for every basketball enthusiast.
It is safe to say that the HealthJox Festival 2023 at Brooklyn Bridge Park was a huge success. It was a day that celebrated Harlem’s basketball legacy, brought fans closer to their idols, The event was not just a testament to the enduring love for basketball but also a celebration of the unity and community spirit that the sport embodies. For basketball lovers in Brooklyn and beyond, this festival was an unforgettable experience that celebrated the past, present, and future of the game. Stay tuned for 2024 as they ramp up service offerings and explore other sports to share with the community.
SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS & SUPPORTERS:
BK Net-Work; Brooklyn Health Equity; Pepsi Co; Brooklyn District Attorney – Eric Gonzales; Brooklyn Borough President – Antonio Reynoso; Breathe Life Foundation; Both Sides of the Violence; Moms Demand Action; Solidarity Movers; NYPD; FDNY; I Will Graduate; Keep This Link, @bothsidesoftheviolenceinc @richroots_richfruits @ladieswhohoop @brooklyn_expresss @nextuporg @ballin4peace @ebcruckerpark @echelon.endeavors @avg_pictures @dezzyf_nbaby @brooklynbridgepark