Basketball Court Reviews

As a mediocre basketball player for most of my life, I haven’t always had the luxury of a team at my side, a jersey on my back or a hardwood court I could call my home.
My team is usually more of a random assortment of park goers who are at least vaguely aware of what a basketball is and what to do with it. There are the old guys, sweaty before we’ve even checked the ball, trying to recapture their youth. There are the high school kids with their perfectly unscuffed Nikes and their Seattle skyline knee socks. And then there’s usually at least one quiet, buff guy with a tribal tattoo who won’t take out his goddamn earbuds.

My jersey, without fail, is a T-shirt minus the sleeves.

And the court? Well, that depends.

Cromwell:
Covered court? No.
Lots of people? Yes.
Number of hoops? Two regulation.
Courts? One full court.
Open to the public? Yes.

When I was no more than a little tyke with unreasonable dreams of the NBA, this court wasn’t much, but it was a court nonetheless. Cracks carved through the concrete like veins and any paint was either faded or gone.

However, there was usually a net on at least one of the hoops, so you could always get that satisfying swish somewhere on the Cromwell court. Or, if you’re anything like me, you could occasionally get that satisfying swish somewhere on the Cromwell court.

A couple years back, they changed everything.

Now, the park’s got a big-ass gazebo, a state-of-the-art pile of metal and screws for kids to hurt themselves on, and even some kind of funky pond/swamp/botanical thing going on. But who cares about all that?

The new Cromwell basketball court is dope.

No longer do the fissures in the concrete threaten to swallow your Spalding with every dribble. No longer do you have to debate with your buds over whether or not that last shot was a three (we all know it was, anyway).

A new paint job and an obvious increase in the overall attention paid to this park has made the new court a pleasure to play on. The lines are clear, the concrete is seamless and the nets hang eternal.

Because of this, there’s almost always a game going at Cromwell. But most of the time, these are pickup games and, if you wear your swaggin’ new Jordans, you’ll probably be able to jump right in.

So, if you’re pickup shy or just want to shoot hoops on your own, you might check it out early in the morning or after the sun’s gone down. But if you’re ready to ball with some strangers, this is the place to go.

Kings:
Covered court? Yeah, whatever.
Lots of people? No, they all got kicked out.
Number of hoops? Does it even matter?
Courts? See number of hoops.
Open to the public? No commoners here, please.

Now, I’ve only really played at this court a couple of times, but that isn’t for lack of trying. I don’t know if I’ve ever been kicked out of something as many times as I’ve been kicked off the Kings basketball courts. Well, there was that class in seventh grade with Mr. McDowell, but I digress.

In short, these private school kids always have some nonsense going on. I don’t know if it’ll be day care, some play, a potluck, a silent auction or what, but if you go down there with a ball and a dream right now, you’ll last about five minutes.

Of course, I guess the court wasn’t made for the common rabble to enjoy anyway, with its pure white nets, its cherry red rims and its posh covered area to protect ballers from the sun and rain.

I don’t know what it is – maybe they can smell the secularism on me – but I’ve only been able to spend a grand total of like an hour at this place over the entirety of my basketball life.

I would recommend this court if you are invisible or a wealthy Kings alumni. And even then you might get a “Hey guys, could you actually please not play here maybe?”

Echo Lake:
Covered court? Yes.
Lots of people? No.
Number of hoops? Four regulation and two short.
Courts? Two full courts and four half courts.
Open to the public? Yes on weekends and during summer, but only after 4 p.m. on school days.

This… this right here is my home court, baby.

This is where I learned how to lay-up, how to dribble crossover, how to shoot my awkward, inconsistent jump shot. Ever since kindergarten, if I wanted to play ball, this was where you’d find me. And I’ve never been kicked out.

A large covered area with two half-courts and, I swear, the sturdiest rims I’ve ever shot on in my life, make it a great place to play, rain or shine.

Heck, I’ve probably even walked up there with a ball under my arm in the snow.

And those rock solid rims in the covered area? Yeah, those will improve your jumper too. It’s more difficult to sink shots when the rim has less give, like jogging with ankle weights, so you’ll have to be more accurate.

But the rest of the rims are nice and wobbly, so if for some reason you aren’t interested in shooting like Ray Allen or Larry Bird or that guy on the Golden State Warriors, you’ve still got a place to go at Echo Lake.

There’s even a couple short hoops so you don’t need NBA-grade hops to work on your Vince Carter Honey Dipper or your MJ From-the-Free-Throw-Line.

Oh, one thing I’ve neglected to mention is the fact that But the two full courts are a little – how should I say this? – uneven.They’re literally on a concrete hill. But if you can get past that minor flaw, Echo Lake rules. Plus, you might run into me, which is why I had to blow the roof off my rating system and give this place six balls out of five.

Echo Lake is my baby, so treat it well.

_Nick Pritchard

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