You see you wouldn't ask why the rose that grew from the concrete
Had damaged petals. On the contrary, we would all celebrate its
Tenacity. We would all love it's will to reach the sun
Well, we are the roses - this is the concrete - these are
My damaged petals. Don't ask me why, ask me how
A couple years ago, Derrick Rose and Powerade collaborated on the “We’re all just a kid from somewhere” advertisement campaign. I remember watching this for the first time, the words “Englewood, Chicago,” sparkling on the screen, chills enveloping my spine.
I was moved—the boy riding his bike on Ashland Ave. represents countless other youth with dreams. Miles away from my childhood home, Derrick Rose was that kid. We whimpered at the beauty of the scene.
Damian Lillard hopped on the Powerade campaign this past year, reppin’ Oakland in his workouts. Despite playing for Portland, Lillard never misses a chance to support Oakland. His “Heart of the City” and iconic Oakland tree tattoos scream “East Bay” across his chest. Such depictions of Rose and Lillard inspire fans to be proud of where they are from.
Civic pride and basketball are inextricably connected. Fans all over American cities take comfort in their collective belief that their city cultivates the best hoops scene. So let’s settle this debate once and for all.
I chose the eight American metro areas which have produced the best NBA talent. They will battle in the Golden State of Mind Urban Legends Tournament.
Rules: Each team receives seven players—a starting five and two bench guys. The players did not need to be born in the city, but needed to play at least 2 years of high school basketball there. I wanted to exclude players who were not from a city proper, but engaging in internet battles about suburbs and cities and everywhere in between gets in the way of Powerade’s message that all kids, even suburban kids, can be from somewhere and represent their city (even if it is an hour drive to the city center). So we’re going with metro areas here instead of strict city boundaries.
Note: Positions are not taken into account when forming the starting five—numbers 1-5 are representative of rankings, not basketball positions. Teams are comprised of the five best players of all-time instead of only current NBA players. Teams will deal with the consequences of their squad’s balance.
After choosing each of the teams, they were seeded by metro size.
- New York City
- Los Angeles
- Bay Area
- DC-Maryland-Virginia Metro (DMV)
1. New York
Coach: Rick Pitino, collector of NCAA violations, Louisville Basketball Coach
Hot Take: New York City no longer lives up to the promise of being one of the best hoops cities in America. Not a single player on this team is a current NBA player. That’s a little pathetic, but it’s still an incredible list. Team NYC operates in the half court with a slow, methodical style. They are the Beatles in this tourney and all you need is to find a little Michael Jackson or Prince to upset their mojo.
- Kareem Abdul Jabbar
- Bernard King
- Julius Erving (*From Nassau County, eligibility is controversial*)
- Billy Cunningham
- Bob Cousy
2. Los Angeles County
Head Coach: LaVar Ball, dad of three boys
This group was really tough to figure out as nearly all of them didn’t actually grow up or go to school in the city of Los Angeles — L.A. is one big suburb. And that suburb is really just a whole county. So this is the county’s team. To no one’s surprise, these seven, will surely be the most dramatic group off the court. A team with Russell Westbrook and James Harden starting could just self destruct. They could also win this thing.
- Russell Westbrook
- James Harden
- Paul Pierce
- Gail Goodrich
- Kevin Love
Head Coach: Robert Smith, Head Coach, Simeon High School
Chicago has the steadiest pipeline of hoops talent in the nation. Decades ago, New York was the hoops hub of America. Recently Seattle and Los Angeles have come on strong—Chicago, though, remains the deepest. Their team has explosive guards, and Anthony Davis. Kevin Garnett and George Mikan were not eligible for Team Chicago, as they each only played one year of high school hoops in Chicago. The tragedy of Ben Wilson, Jabari Parker’s ACLs, and Jahlil Okafor’s defense all provoke a “what could of been” question with this team.
- Isiah Thomas
- Dwyane Wade
- Derrick Rose (AT HIS PEAK)
- Mark Aguirre
- Anthony Davis
4. The Bay Area
Coach: Antonio Davis, Formerly McClymonds High School and NBA player
The moment you’ve all been waiting for. Bill Russell moved to Oakland when he was eight and never looked back. He dominated at Oakland’s McClymonds High School, the University of San Francisco, and later won 11 titles with the Boston Celtics. Payton and Kidd, two of the best defensive guards of all-time will complement Russell’s inside game. The Yay’s starting five is probably the best defensive group of the bunch, but lacks three point shooting outside of Lillard. Eddie House and Jeremy Lin would have been valuable additions. Lin could be an excellent addition from the South Bay, but post-Linsanity, he has not played well enough to earn a spot on the team.
- Bill Russell
- Gary Payton
- Jason Kidd
- K.C Jones
- Damian Lillard
5. Washington, DC (DMV metro)
Coach: Morgan Wootten, Head Coach, DeMatha High (from 1956-2002)
The DMV has produced a wealth of interesting players over a long period of time. As a starting five, this team could actually work as a smallball lineup. Durant and Hill are a nasty combination who can cause bad matchups for opposing teams. Apologies to Delonte West and Ty Lawson who did not make the cut.
- Kevin Durant
- Grant Hill
- Elgin Baylor
- Dave Bing
- Adrian Dantley
Coach: Phil Martelli, Head Coach, St. Joseph’s University
Philly and Chicago have the best first round matchup. Wilt Chamberlain vs. Anthony Davis. The Chicago guards battling Bryant. Philadelphia has been another basketball hub for generations and has consistently churned out stars for a long time. Dion Waiters is ready when Wallace gets technical fouls.
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Kobe Bryant
- Rasheed Wallace
- Kyle Lowry
- Paul Arizin
Head Coach: Steve Fisher, Head Coach, Michigan’s Fab Five (1989-1997)
Detroit has slowed its roll since the days of Michigan’s Fab Five. Back when Detroit’s population boomed, Detroit high schools were producing NBA players regularly. Stars like Magic Johnson, and Draymond Green grew up in other parts of Michigan and would have been huge additions to this team.
- George Gervin
- Chris Webber
- Dave DeBusschere
- Jalen Rose
- Mel Daniels
Head Coach: Nate Robinson, University of Washington, former NBA player
Along with Chicago, Seattle has produced some of the best NBA talent in the last 15 years. However, Seattle developed fewer players when other cities were in their heydays. The most watchable of tourney teams, Seattle plays at a breakneck pace, running and gunning, but they’ll turn the ball over and struggle to rebound. Seattle’s style is the antithesis of the New York’s. I know I’ll upset some people with the Nate Robinson omission, but Avery Bradley is better.
- Isaiah Thomas
- Brandon Roy
- Jamal Crawford
- Jason Terry
- Doug Christie
Round 1: Vote your conscience.
This poll is closed
1) New York City
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2) Los Angeles
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4) Bay Area
5) Washington, DC