Jul 17th, 2007 by bobbyciafardini
By Bobby Ciafardini
Think you have what it takes to be the “Last Man Standing”? Think again.
Madison Square Garden’s Last Man Standing One-on-One Basketball Tournament, presented by McDonalds, returned to the streets of New York City Friday afternoon. As always, the competition was fierce. Fifty of the area’s top players took to the asphalt in McDonald’s parking lot at 125th Street and Broadway in Harlem, vying for a chance to advance to next round, and ultimately, play for the championship at the World’s Most Famous Arena on Aug. 18.
InsideHoops.com was on the scene to check out the action. Friday’s winners advanced to the next round, which will be held on July 28 at McDonald’s (Vauxhall McDonald’s Parkway N Ex. 141) in Union, NJ, from 1 to 6 p.m. The winner of the championship will be crowned “Last Man Standing,” and will win a workout session with pro scouts at MSG, in addition to $5,000 cash and a championship ring. The champ will also receive four tickets to an MSG basketball event.
There were some scrub sightings, but the better ballplayers, as always, prevailed. Streetball newcomer “Problem Child” advanced and was one of the top performers in the early afternoon. The multi-talented Bobbito Garcia, who hosts MSG’s Summerball (StreetballNY) television series, even got in on the action, suiting up for the one-on-one tournament. He put down the microphone and played well with the rock in hand.
Corey “Homicide” Williams, better known as “Murder by Numbers” at the Hoops in the Sun Roundball Classic in the Bronx, won the event last year. He has since moved on to win an NBDL championship this season, and is currently playing in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. In fact, the Bronx native and streetball legend, dropped 13 points and six assists Saturday night forGolden State against the New York Knicks. Hopefully, Williams will make the Warriors. It would be a good look for streetball.
The same could be said about whoever wins the Last Man Standing Tournament this year. All the players are chasing the dream on one day playing professional basketball. They are also looking for some street credibility. The tournament has already had showcases in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Daryl Massey, also known as “Kobe,” another Hoops in the Sun alum, won the Bronx event this year and will participate in New Jersey in two weeks for the right to play in the finals at MSG in August.
Overall, 600 players have registered for the tournament, but only one will be crowned the king of the one-on-one circuit. The second and third place finishers will also take home cash prizes.
Dan Gladstone, director of field marketing and community relations for the Knicks, is an organizer for the event. He was pleased with the turnout and the competition. “The fans keep coming out, and we are happy to have them,” he said. “It’s a great tournament for the crowds and the players. Some of these ballplayers will have a chance to fulfill a dream of playing in the Garden, and one will walk away a champ.”
Bernard Bowen, another organizer for the event, said the tournament’s popularity keeps on growing, because “it’s a battle of wills. Which competitor has what it takes to defeat each player in a game of one-on-one with the world watching? That’s what the fans come out to see.”
For those in attendance Friday, they were also treated to celebrity sightings. Streetball legend and former Syracuse University great Dwayne “Pearl” Washington and former New York Knicks star Larry Johnson appeared at the tournament. It was Johnson’s first appearance in New York since he retired from the NBA all too early in his career due to nagging injuries.
Who could forget Johnson’s four-point play against Indiana in the ’99 playoffs. Good times.
But Friday wasn’t just about appearances and some of the best basketball action in the city. The New York Knicks Groove Truck was on hand, along with some of the Knick City Dancers. The Groove Truck featured a host of games and prizes for fans.
I must admit, I took in a round of free-throw shooting for prizes at the Groove Truck, but didn’t look sharp early on. I finally found my rhythm and walked away with a life size Nate Robinson poster.
It was a great day of hoops. Now, we’ll see who has what it takes to be the Last Man Standing.