It was roughly a month ago that I noticed that the basketball courts at Mosswood Park had been closed down and encircled by an unsightly chain-link fence. I live less than a block away from the park and am quite familiar with these courts. I have spent a fair amount of time playing pick up games there and have gotten my ass handed to me by some of the best hoops players in Oakland on more than one occasion.
These courts have history. Several local NBA legends were groomed here including Jason Kidd, Gary Payton and Brian Shaw. It was here that Street Ball legend Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell wowed the neighborhood on a regular basis with his gravity-defying dunks. Mosswood Park is even featured as a playable level in the popular NBA Street video game series.
Perhaps most importantly, these courts mean a lot to the neighborhood. At a time when the Oakland Parks and Rec budget is being slashed, the basketball courts at Mosswood Park serve as a shining example of how public space can and should be used to bring a community together. Perhaps more so than any other public place, a basketball court provides a safe place for men and women of all ages, color and socio-economic status to interact with one another, literally on an equal playing field.
So, you can imagine my panic when I saw the courts boarded up. I promptly emailed the Greater Mosswood listserv to see if anyone knew what the hell was going on. I let out a huge sigh of relief when a neighbor informed me that no, the courts were not being shut down. Quite the opposite, they were going to be given a makeover – a total resurfacing, new hoops and even benches!
Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched as the Good Tidings Foundation (in conjunction with Kaiser) transformed the courts from this:
Today was the ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Mosswood Basketball Courts. Current Golden State Warriors star, David Lee was in attendance (I saw him eating Fentons ice cream!) along with Warriors legends Alvin Attles and Nate Thurmond. Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain outside and the ceremony was totally scripted and cheesy. Still, I couldn’t help but feel excited and a tad giddy about the fact that our little park was finally getting some love and much needed attention.
When I got home tonight, I walked over to the courts to try them out. It was late, but people were still out playing hoops. The court was smooth and the rims were stiff. It’s going to be a good summer.
Click here for the official press release.