Marijuana smoke coils upward into a moonlit sky once night falls over the fenced-in asphalt at Gersh Park, a basketball battleground in East New York. Fans line the court five deep; a thermometer on Linden Blvd. reads 93 degrees. The crowd is thick with gamblers; security is thin. Six onlookers, cash rolls in hand, take tokes, the ends of their cigarettes burning bright, and press up against barricades to place bets. They pay close attention to the Sean Bell All Stars, dressed in sky blue, and the Brooklyn Stompers, an unbeaten unit in brown. Raheem Wiggins, known as Rah, is the coach of Sean Bell and wears all red. His arms are folded across his chest on the sideline. He is a rabble-rouser and raconteur in each park that he inhabits across the city. All of 5-foot-8, he stands out in the street game. His left forearm bears an inking that doubles as a form of identification. It reads: “Dats Dem N—-z.” Government names are left at the gate, where a plainclothes guard pats down all participants. Noms de playground are assumed in layup lines. There are Happy Feet and Cliffhanger, Pool Shark and Tu Easy. Words vile and violent… Read full this story
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