If you was to ask Mr. Greg "Jocko" Jackson where was the game of Basketball invented at, he would tell you, "it was made right here in Brownsville." The game of Basketball saves a lot of lives in the community. There is an extensive list of Basketball players from Brownsville who have played professionally, on the collegiate level and also in the playground. Check out this article by Jesse Newman of The Brooklyn Ink. Brownsville has some of the best Basketball players in the World!
Local boys play basketball on the court at the Brownsville Recreation Center in Brooklyn in July. (Photo: Jesse Newman/The Brooklyn Ink)
Greg Jackson sat in the bleachers of the Brownsville Recreation Center on a Saturday in July, bouncing a grandson on one knee and squinting his eyes at the basketball game in progress before him. One by one, players rushed past, darting through the soft columns of afternoon light that flooded the Brooklyn gym, bathing the court in an ethereal glow and turning young men into silhouettes.
Smiling at the high-pitched shriek of sneakers and the shrill cry of the referee’s whistle, Jackson, a Brownsville native and manager of the rec center, pointed to the freshly painted court and bright gold uniforms flashing by. “You see,” he said. “Hope is back.”
Jackson, known simply as “Jocko” throughout Brownsville, was in 11th grade at Samuel J. Tilden High School when his guidance counselor suggested that he quit school and get a factory job. “You’re not gonna amount to much,” he remembers being told. That was over 40 years ago, before he graduated from college, played basketball for the NBA, married, raised nine children and helped rescue the rec center from near-ruin, turning it into a safe haven for young people in a neighborhood beset by violent crime.
In a city flush with pro basketball stars and legendary street ball courts, every neighborhood has its success story, and Brooklyn perhaps more than its fair share. Brownsville alone spawned a handful of famous players, including James “Fly” Williams, the mercurial darling of the American Basketball Association; World B. Free, known for his 44-inch vertical leaps and 360-degree dunks in the NBA; and Phil “The Thrill” Sellers, the six-foot-five-inch forward who led Rutgers University in its only undefeated regular season in 1976 and brought the Scarlet Knights to the Final Four that year.