During April and May for the last 26 years, in New York City, high school basketball "IS" the iS8/Nike Spring High School Classic.
Many people however don't know the history of this extremely influential and highly competitive tournament where top players either get exposure or get exposed.
The iS8 actually began 35 to 40 years ago as a local unlimited league, located in Intermediate School #8 in South Jamaica Queens, NY and run by the late Rudy Lee. It was later run by Billy Medley and Ray Gillespie. Participants included pros & street legends such as "Fly" Williams, Lloyd B. Free, Al Skinner, George Johnson, Kenny Charles, Greg "Jocko" Jackson, Jeff Houston, Reggie Carter, Alfred King, Wayne McCoy, Sam Worthen, and Mel Davis just to name a few. Because of the intense rivalries The IS8 became known over the years as a place where the best of the best came to throw down. To put up or shut up. "To bring your game, not your name."
Then there was a lull in the action because schools where closing and there were cut backs. In 1983 - 1984, Phillip "Abadab" Kelly and James Ryan realized that the iS8 was vital to the community and went to Solomon Goodrich of the Southern Queens Park Association and Councilman Archie Spigner to get the iS8 gym reopened for three nights a week. Because they were unable to run the event themselves on a consistent basis, they approached Pete Edwards who grew up in the neighborhood and use to enjoy watching the IS8 himself as a kid.
As a result of basketball, Pete got a free college education and had return to his community so when he was tapped to run the IS8 he gladly accepted as a way of giving back.
Disenchanted with the neighborhood violence, in 1986, Pete changed the iS8 into a high school and junior high school tournament, as a way to give talented kids the opportunity to be seen.
Today, the iS8 Tournament is the place where top ballers come to get exposure or to get exposed. It is and always will be known as a place to put up or shut up. "To bring your game, not your name."
Active NBA players who have come through the IS8 include:
Ron Artest (L.A. Lakers), LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), Michael Beasley (Miami Heat) Speedy Claxton (Atlanta Hawks), Royal Ivey (Atlanta Hawks), Sebastian Telfair (Bos. Celtics), Ben Gordon (Detroit Pistons), Rafer Alston (Miami Heat), Elton Brand (Phil. 76ers), Samuel Dalembert (Phil. 76ers), Lamar Odom (LA Lakers), J.R. Smith (Denver Nuggets) and Charlie Villanueva (Detroit Pistons).
The games begin on Saturday April 3rd and NYCHoops.net will, as always bring you wall to wall coverage of the iS8/Nike and The High School Basketball Network, (iS8Nike.TV) will bring you teams, updated schedules, standings plus full game webcasts of the semifinals and championship games.
Go to NYC Hoops for all the late breaking NYC basketball news and rankings.