2018-04-25 / Features

Queensbridge Hoops

BY TOM COGAN


Get at least “a little dirt on your shovels” and flip it high, said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer at the groundbreaking ceremony for the reconstruction of a Queensbridge basketball court. It’s clear no one flipped it higher than he. Among the others giving it a try were (beginning second from Van Bramer’s r.): Caesar Gonzalez and Hank Carter; then, to Van Bramer’s immediate (l.), April Simpson and Chris Hanway to his far (l.). Get at least “a little dirt on your shovels” and flip it high, said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer at the groundbreaking ceremony for the reconstruction of a Queensbridge basketball court. It’s clear no one flipped it higher than he. Among the others giving it a try were (beginning second from Van Bramer’s r.): Caesar Gonzalez and Hank Carter; then, to Van Bramer’s immediate (l.), April Simpson and Chris Hanway to his far (l.). Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer was joined by local leaders and members of the Queensbridge Community for the groundbreaking ceremony for renovating a playground and a new basketball court, replacing the one that stood for years.

Reconstruction of the basketball court was one of the funding proposals offered to and approved by the voters of Van Bramer’s 26th Council District in last year’s participatory budget elections. The amount was $350,000. This year, Van Bramer said the estimated construction period for the court is three months. With heavy equipment standing nearby and ready to go at the April 17 ceremony, it looked like work would soon commence and the new basketball court would be ready for play by midsummer.

Van Bramer called the court not merely necessary but a part of Queensbridge’s glory. He hailed Bob Madison and Chris Hanway of the Jacob Riis Settlement House, and Caesar Gonzalez, whom he praised as “a true champion for our youth,” before turning to Hank Carter, long-time Queensbridge resident and activist. He called them “legends” and suggested that Carter, having had two hospitals named after him, might soon have his name affixed to the new basketball court. He also called to the microphone another Queensbridge resident and activist, April Simpson. She said it was “an emotional day” for her.

Simpson recalled being six years old and seeing her older brothers playing on the court. Later, she said, NBA stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walt “Clyde” Frazier made guest appearances there, no doubt to the delight of many residents. She said some Queensbridge boys went on to college and professional stardom, including Ron Artest, who played at St. John’s and for several NBA teams and was honored in a welcome-home ceremony at Jacob Riis several years ago.

Hank Carter was invited to speak by Van Bramer, and in a very quiet voice said that many good people have come from Queensbridge.

“I thank God for Queensbridge,” Carter said.

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