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The Mecca of Basketball: Calling All Ballers, from the Legendary Rucker Park

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True ballers live by a code – if you want to be the best, then you’ve got to play against the best. It’s that way all the way up and down the hoops food chain, from High School to AAU, from College to the NBA. I’ve played on about every level there is and this summer I learned one thing – playing at the Rucker is no walk in the park. That is to say, you’ve got to bring your A-game or you will get left behind. And if you don’t? Then you can say you’re one of the best. But again, saying that isn’t easy…

The first challenge is getting on a team in the EBC, especially if you’re not from NYC. Being that I’m from Cleveland (or, somewhere in the middle), I didn’t know anybody initially and no teams or coaches would put me down. Let’s be real – I had to make calls – lots and lots of calls my initial summer here. Finally Greg Marius, the CEO of EBC put me on a squad called Black Wallstreet. From there? Things went pretty quickly, and after a breakout game, I earned the nickname Smokin’ Aces,’ a name that still follows me around these NYC streets.

“I have seen some of the NBA’s best and other legends come to play at the EBC Rucker Park in Kobe Bryant, Stephon Marbury, Joe Hammond, Kevin Durant, etc. This is not an easy place to play, let alone get a nickname. Brian did just that earning the nickname Smokin’ Aces. Not only does he have one of the best jump-shots I’ve ever seen, hands down, but he can also create shots for himself and others. This kid can play against anyone. “

Greg Marius, CEO Entertainer’s Basketball Classic, Rucker Park

This summer Harlem was anticipating the kick-off for another great season at the EBC. What would you expect after Kevin Durant dropped 68pts during the lockout? True enough, several NBA players came through this summer to test their skills (Tyreke Evans, Nate Robinson, Anthony Morrow just to name a few) and see if their games could match the hype.

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Brian Kortovich (right) with the Mcee’s EJ ‘The Mayor’ Johnson and Hannibal who dubbed him the nickname Smokin’ Aces back in summer 2008 (photo by EBC)

The team I played for this year went by the name ‘DJ-Clue All-Stars,’ and we had a nice flow going through the season. We made the playoffs, but had an early exit in first round. And a funny thing happened on my way to dishing the rock – turns out I scored a few points too. I took home the scoring crown for the summer, a humbling honor, especially from a league where so many past NBA greats and talents have graced those hallowed grounds. I have to thank my teammates, because without them it wouldn’t have been possible, to say the obvious.

Congrats to TNP, who took home the 2012 EBC title, beating Each One Teach One in the finals.

Anyways, it’s been a great summer at the EBC and also a very productive one of NBA workouts out in Vegas and here in NYC. Looking forward to what lies ahead to build on this momentum from the workouts I had… The journey continues! And like I said at the top – I’ll still be looking to play the best, anytime, any place.

Until next time!

Brian Kortovich a.k.a. Smokin’ Aces

PS: Special s/o to DJ Clue, Desert Storm Records, my Hillsong NYC family, especially Carl Lentz and my man Brian Graham for putting our team together. Great guys!




R.I.P. Nikola Jović (1996-2022) Tribute

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rujan 2012
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