Top 5 New York City Point Gods


August 1

At the premiere of Point Gods, one of the documentary’s stars, Kenny Anderson, listed his top New York City point guards. His list included Kenny Smith, Rod Strickland, Pearl Washington, Mark Jackson, and himself. While all the legends he listed are undoubtedly worthy of praise, it raises the question, who are the top five point guards from New York City’s playgrounds?

5. Rafer Alston 

Rafer “Skip to my Lou” Alston was the face of a cultural revolution. Alston’s handles were above and beyond what anyone had ever seen before. He was a New York City sensation at the parks in Queens as thousands would crowd to watch him embarrass defenders on his way to the rack. It wasn’t long before Alston became a global sensation as he was the center of the very first AND1 mixtape. That mixtape brought New York City basketball to the rest of the world and inspired millions to develop handles like him. Alston was also the first player to take streetball and make it to the NBA. Alston played 13 NBA seasons for six different teams and had a solid professional career. 

4. Stephon Marbury 

The pride of Coney Island. Stephon Marbury was a prodigy who had the whole package from a young age. According to Mark Jackson, the Marbury brothers were known around New York as a basketball family, but Stephon was the best of the bunch. Stephon’s early stardom got national recognition as he was named the best sixth grader in the nation. Marbury played with intense passion, fueled by the notion of creating a better life for his family. Once he got to the NBA, Marbury did everything he could to succeed. Kenny Smith said Marbury would constantly pick his brain, wanting to soak up every moment of basketball. In the end, Marbury is synonymous with New York City basketball, playing 15 NBA seasons and making two All-Star appearances. Stephen A Smith called him ” The greatest point guard in New York City besides Tiny Archibald.”

3. God Shammgod

The man the move was named after. Kenny Smith called God Shammgod “The most creative point guard that New York has ever seen.” Shammgod had his own unique style that was developed from the culture of Harlem. Unlike most New York point guards, he slowed the game down instead of speeding to the hoop. His legend was built in the 1997 Elite Eight against Arizona when he played for Providence. Shammgod said his famous move happened by accident. He messed up a dribble move, and “the Shammgod” was another move he did on the fly. Everyone watching live remembers that moment, and the move will likely transcend time as those with elite handles can utilize it at any level. At the premiere of Point Gods, Shammgod spoke about what the legacy of his move means to him:

“It’s just a humbling experience. I’m one of the few people who get to experience their inspiration every day. Cause like I said, most people, when they pass away, we hear what they left every day. I get to hear when guys do certain things in the NBA. People come to me like, “oh, that’s Shammgod,” and they do the move.” He continued, “I get to know once I leave that I left basketball better than how I found it.”

2. Kenny Anderson 

While Kenny Anderson fell in love with the game on the streets of LeFrak City in Queens, his legacy began in the sixth grade when colleges were recruiting him after New York City Sports put him on the front page of their magazine. Anderson was not just the greatest high school player in the history of New York City but is regarded by some as the greatest high school basketball player of all time. He was a four-time All-American and a four-time All-City selection, and he was the first player to accomplish that feat since Kareem Abdul Jabbar. His freshman season was especially impressive since his coach would not let him play in the first quarter of every game due to being a freshman. Anderson still went on to set the all-time state record for scoring. 

Anderson then went on to Georgia Tech, averaging 23 points per game in his two years there. He famously crossed up Duke guard Bobby Hurley in a marquee matchup. He went on to have a long pro career after being selected second overall by the New Jersey Nets in the 1991 draft. Anderson would play 18 NBA seasons and earn one All-Star selection. 

1. Dwayne “Pearl” Washington 

If you want to know just how good Pearl Washinton was, take it from the other Point Gods. Kenny Smith said that Pearl “Was a man amongst boys that we all chased.” “He embodied what New York City point guards were about,” said Rafer Alston. Pearl grew up in Brooklyn and was a playground phenom. His confidence rolling up to park games was unmatched. Pearl would arrive on his motorcycle with a big gold Pac-Man chain because he always ate up his opponents. 

In high school, his games were jam-packed as Washington was the No.1 overall player in the country in 1983. Later, legendary coach Jim Boeheim recruited him to Syracuse, and his stardom exploded. Boeheim likened Syracuse games to Bruce Springsteen concerts as everyone packed the Carrier Dome to see Pearl shake and bake his way past defenders. “He did things nobody could do with a basketball,” said Boeheim when talking about Washington’s ability. The Hall of Fame coach described Pearl’s skills in the documentary by saying, ” He had great vision and great penetration. He was really a magical basketball player in the open court. “

Check out Pearl and his famous “in & out” move against Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas:

Thumbnail photo via Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

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