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After 14 years, NBA star and Coney Island native Stephon Marbury will soon see his annual hoops tournament in the neighborhood booted from its public housing development basketball court.
The tournament, now called the Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair Basketball Tournament, is held on the O’Dwyer Gardens public housing development basketball court the last two weeks in July and first week of August.
Marbury currently plays with the Boston Celtics, while his cousin, Telfair, plays with the Minnesota Timerberwolves.
Both played for Lincoln High School and grew up at the Surfside public housing development, 2940 West 31st Street, a stone’s throw from the O’Dwyer complex.
The western edge of Coney Island is dotted with similar public housing complexes, most equipped with basketball courts that have spawned several NBA stars, Division 1 college players, and others playing professionally in Europe.
However, O’Dwyer Gardens Tenants Association President Sheila Smalls said the tournament is increasingly bringing bad elements to the sprawling complex.
“I myself don’t have problems with the basketball tournament, but I represent a lot of people, including people who work and who are elderly, and who do not like to have the loud noise from the music and amplifier, and the cheers from the crowds,” said Smalls.
“The Marbury tournament ends on time as scheduled, but unfortunately an illegal game starts when they finish. They play loud music. There is gambling on the side and people smoking weed on the side, and when the games are over, it takes the crowds a long time to disperse,” she added.
Marbury’s Tournament Site Director John Quintana, who grew up at the nearby Carey Gardens public housing development, maintained that the tournament is a positive event for all in the community.
“We always clean up afterward in a timely manner and bring in security whenever there’s a big game between rivals,” he said. “With or without the tournament there is gambling and beer, but that’s a way of life over there. It’s been there since I was small.”
Quintana noted that in the 14 years of the tournament, which draws some 800 basketball players from Coney Island and the tri−state region, there has never been any serious violence.
Still, he confirmed that a recent meeting with the New York City Housing Authority and local police did not go well, and that this summer’s tournament will probably be the last held at O’Dwyer Gardens, because they were denied a sound permit.
“A sound permit is very important in any organization. Even in Bingo you need a mic,” he said.
Meanwhile, City Councilmember Domenic Recchia announced a $2.57 million city allocation to reconstruct the basketball courts at Kaiser Park, and hopes the tournament will be held there next year.
The park is located on off Neptune Avenue close to the O’Dwyer development.
“This tournament brings people into the neighborhood from all over, including college scouts that come to see the talent we have in Coney Island,” said Recchia.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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