Another look at ‘Heaven Is A Playground’

By Wesley Chism Jr., BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: January 4, 2010

SEATTLE (BASN) — This holiday season I was given a book that has quickly become a favorite, “Heaven is a Playground” by Rick Telander.

It describes the summer of 1974 that Rick spent at Foster Park in Brooklyn where he was able to witness basketball legends in the making and documented the culture of street basketball.

NYC is arguably the Mecca of basketball and it’s a topic that can ruin some of the longest relationships. One thing that can’t be disputed is that some of the best guards to play in the NBA got started on the playgrounds in Brooklyn.

Players such as Bob Cousy, Mark Jackson, Kenny Smith, Rod Strickland, Kenny Anderson and my favorite of all time Nate “Tiny” Archibald just to name a few. Then in order to keep piece in my family I must mention player, coach and Hall of Famer, Lenny Wilkins.

“Heaven is a Playground” is considered one of the greatest basketball books of all time and it shows the impact that street ball has had on today’s game. It also gives credibility to some of the stories that I’ve heard that just seem to far stretch to be true.

In honor of the book’s 35th anniversary, Converse prepared an exhibition of Rick’s photography from that summer in Forest Park featuring basketball greats and characters from the book such as Connie Hawkins, Albert and Bernard King, James “Fly” Williams just to name a few.

In addition to Telander’s photography, the exhibition also features incredible pieces from the Converse Archive, including the Subway Stars Chuck Taylor All Star shoes, produced in an ultra-limited run solely for the original “Subway Stars” featured in the book.

I had the opportunity to take the family while in NYC during the holidays and it’s a must see for any hoops fan. Walking around the exhibit brought back so many memories of days gone by but what really got me was that every shoe that I always wanted as a kid.

The “Heaven is a Playground” exhibit at the Converse Energy Space is open through January 31 from Noon-4 p.m. ET on Thursdays through Saturdays and the cost is FREE.

NOTE: Converse Energy Space is located at 132 Orchard St. (between Rivington and Delancey).