Wow. What a surprise! A basketball game in the middle of downtown, at the corner of Davie and Fayetteville Streets. What a show! Bodies were flying, passions were heated, skillful moves were made, in this street ballet of ball. A big crowd gathered to watch. I'd never seen such group energy on Fayetteville St. before.
Anyone who has seen the West 4th Street "Cage" knows what a powerful magnet street basketball can be. The Cage attracts a whole range of onlookers, dedicated followers, and players. The pickup court is a place of diversity, a level playing field where barriers and judgments drop away in pursuit of the game. It is the rare place where people from vastly different neighborhoods and backgrounds come together and play.
Lions Park and Halifax court used to be such a place. I've heard great stories from neighborhood kids about the people they met and played with there, people of all ages, races, and income levels. At all times of day and night, my sons and their friends went there to pick up games with whomever showed up. The bonds they made on that court broadened their experience of Raleigh beyond just the kids they met at school.
Why can't downtown Raleigh have a street "Basketball Cage?" It could be an underused lot waiting for development or a parking lot by day and a basketball court by night. It doesn't have to be fancy or permanent. Two hoops and a ball is all you need, easily moved if the lot's use changes.
Downtown can offer more than just eating and drinking. How awesome to stumble upon a passionate street performance like basketball, to witness an elegant layup or skillful pass. It is a stage for players to show off their skills, where people from all of Raleigh's diverse neighborhoods can come together to play, and most importantly, it happens on the street, in the middle of downtown, where passers-by can walk by, stop, and watch, not inside a far-off recreational building you have to drive to.
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