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Most Legendary Street Ballers Of All Time



While some guys get paid millions to ball, legions of unknown street ballers dedicate their free time, sometimes their lives, to the outdoor courts scattered across the globe. For most, pickup basketball is just fun and games, but for some, it’s more than that. For a handful of street ballers, it’s how they’ll be remembered forever. These are the 5 greatest streetball legends of all time.

Most Legendary Street Ballers Of All Time 5Photo Credit: Karl Ludwig G. Poggeman /

Earl “The Goat” Manigault

Height: 6’1″

Home Court: Happy Warrior Playground, Manhattan

Although he earned his nickname after a teacher flubbed the proper pronunciation of his last name (Man-uh-galt), Earl Manigault may just be streetball’s greatest player of all time. Manigault himself never made it to the big time. In fact, he never played professionally at all, but those who spent time at “Happy Warrior Playground” on Amsterdam Ave. & West 99th Street in Manhattan in the 60s know what he was capable of: a ruthless competitive streak, uncanny jumping ability, and an extensive vocabulary of moves including his signature: the “Double Dunk,” in which he’d dunk the ball with one hand, catch it with the other as it fell through the rim, and then dunk it again. The Goat passed away of congestive heart failure in the March of 1998. A couple months later, the New York City Parks department renamed the Upper West Side courts where he dominated the Goat Courts.

Most Legendary Street Ballers Of All Time 2Photo Credit: T. Carrigan /

Rafer “Skip to My Lou” Alston

Height: 6’2”

Home Court: Rucker Park, Harlem

Another New York native, Rafer Alston might be the last in a generation of pure street ballers. Either that or he’s the first street baller of the modern era. His yo-yo handles and hip-hop swagger were the inspiration for the first AND1 Mixtape, the groundbreaking debut of a series that would change streetball, and basketball, forever. He received his nickname because of the way he would coolly skip while dribbling the ball up the court. He played in numerous tournaments at Harlem’s Rucker Park, showcasing a deep repertoire of deft moves to cement his name in the annals of streetball lore. Legend has it, during one game at Rucker, Alston sprinted down the court to an open bucket, raised for a finger roll, and unexpectedly let the ball fall down his arm, over his shoulder and down his trailing forearm to a teammate behind who slammed the ball home. Alston went on to play basketball professionally.

Most Legendary Street Ballers Of All Time 4Photo Credit: Willy Lopez /

Nate “Tiny” Archibald

Height: 6’1″

Home Court: Rucker Park, Harlem

Before he became a pro-basketball legend, and the only player to lead the league in both scoring and assists in the same season, Tiny was a terror on the courts of Harlem and the Bronx. A native of concrete-tough Patterson Housing Projects, Archibald managed to stay afloat while others around him sunk. Maybe that’s because he was better than everyone else, or maybe he was better because he loved the game. Either way, he dazzled the blacktop with startling quickness and uncanny court awareness, stealing the spotlight from contemporary legends and NYC streetball rivals like Richard “Pee Wee” Kirkland and Angel “Monchito” Cruz. Kirkland, to this day, disputes that “Tiny,” then known as “The Skate,” schooled him.

Most Legendary Street Ballers Of All Time 3Photo Credit: /

Richard “Pee Wee” Kirkland

Height: 6’1”

Home Court: Rucker Park, Harlem

Along with Nate “The Skate,” “Monchito” Cruz (who went on to dominate the Puerto Rican league) and too many other street ballers barely searchable on the Internet, “Pee Wee” Kirkland haunted Rucker during what might be described as streetball’s golden era. Legend has it that Kirkland invented the crossover spin to the hoop. Streetball legend also has it that Kirkland used to roll up to the courts in a signature Rolls Royce. Supposedly, he turned down a contract to play professionally because he was making more money hustling on the streets.

Most Legendary Street Ballers Of All TimePhoto Credit: Peter Havlik /

Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell

Height: 5’9”

Home Court: Various Oakland parks

The springy Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell played with some of professional basketball’s greats on the courts of the east bay. According to those future hall of famers, “Hook” was better than all of them. He 360-dunked over a Honda Accord while messing around one day. Another time, the sub-6-footer shattered a backboard on an alley oop. Despite his talents, Mitchell never lived up to his true potential. In 2004, at the age of 39, he was given one last chance, as the Golden State Warriors offered him a tryout, but by that time, Mitchell was already out of the game.

Think you know some other streetball legends that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below or @DegreeMen.

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