New York City, stand up!
It’s been a long time since the history of New York City hoops and the influence it had on the explosion of the gritty city point god was celebrated. Until now.
Showtime Sports Documentary Films is announcing “NYC Point Gods,” spotlighting the undeniable impact of New York City point guards who honed their craft and developed their legendary showmanship on the city’s iconic playgrounds and high school gyms in the 1980s and ’90s, from Rucker Park to the cages of West 4th.
The documentary extends the successful collaboration between Showtime and NBA superstar Kevin Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman’s Boardroom.
“Everyone knows a NYC point guard when they see them,” said two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, “and the point gods of this film were instrumental in changing the game for everyone. We are really excited to honor them through this doc, and I know basketball fans will really appreciate it.”
“NYC Point Gods” features extensive interviews and rare footage of the point guards, plus prominent New York voices. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith (Queens), Cam’ron (Harlem), Fat Joe (Bronx), and iconic Big East college coaches Lou Carnesecca, Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino lend their first-hand knowledge from personal interactions and share surreal stories involving the “Point Gods.”
The gritty blight of New York City in the ’80s revealed a cultural resilience, one that ultimately birthed East Coast hip-hop and inspired a flamboyant yet rugged style of play on the blacktop that endures today.
The elegance of the city’s elite point guards, molded by the packed streetball courts, unwritten rules of bruising pickup games, and the perseverance required to survive everyday life, has come to define an era of basketball and American culture. Their transcendent style is etched in the consciousness of all who have witnessed these prodigies.
The New York City point gods’ lasting impact on the game of basketball can be seen around the world in virtually every league. In fact, we saw one from NYC’s glory days of the 1980s and ’90s in Shaheen Holloway make history as a coach in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The Queens, New York, product helped Saint Peter’s become the first 15th seed to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. His confidence, toughness and exceptional execution — all attributes shared by NYC’s elite points gods — reflected the character of his underdog team.
The film features a who’s who of NY’s point guard Mount Rushmore: Rafer Alston, Kenny Anderson, Mark Jackson, Stephon Marbury, God Shammgod, Kenny Smith, Rod Strickland, and Dwayne “Pearl” Washington.
Those basketball savants brought a theatrical artistry to the hardwood, dizzying ball control, stylish misdirection, and a shake-and-bake game that spread from the asphalt to the city’s hallowed high school gyms to the nation’s predominantly white Power 5 schools and eventually to the NBA.
“NYC Point Gods” explores how the city shaped these distinct players and also how these prolific point guards also helped shape and advance the game under their watch. An indelible impact on the culture and development of the game that is evident today.
“As a basketball fan who marveled at the skill and showmanship of each of these point gods, I couldn’t be prouder of this film for its faithful depiction of a special time and special place in basketball history,” said Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Networks president of sports & event programming. “New York City produced some of the greatest showmen and floor generals in basketball history, players whose creativity and style – and signature moves – continue to influence the game today.”
“These players were the first people I ever idolized and looked up to, and that time in my life had a huge impact on me,” said 35V and Boardroom co-founder and executive producer Rich Kleiman. “To get to tell these stories about this era and these cultural superheroes is an honor and something that I hope makes all New Yorkers and hoops fans proud to watch.”
The Journey of each New York City “Point God”:
- Rafer Alston — A streetball legend responsible for helping create a cultural phenomenon in the AND1 Mixtape Tour with his innovative, herky-jerky unguardable moves. “Skip to my Lou” from Jamaica, Queens, inspired a generation of kids around the world, showing them that it’s possible to go from the playgrounds to the NBA.
- Kenny Anderson — From LeFrak City, Queens, Anderson was widely considered to be the greatest high school basketball player ever when he starred for the iconic Archbishop Molloy program under illustrious coach Jack Curran. He went on to play college ball at Georgia Tech and was drafted second overall in 1991.
- Mark Jackson — A local hero who played high school, college and NBA ball in New York, Jackson was a 17-year NBA veteran and remains a prominent voice in the sport as an NBA analyst.
- Stephon Marbury — The prodigy. Born and raised in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, “Starbury” was rated the No. 1 player in the country year after year while starring at NYC powerhouse Lincoln High School. Marbury played one year of college ball at Georgia Tech before being drafted fourth overall in 1996.
- God Shammgod — One of the best ballhandlers in history, Shammgod’s legendary status was stamped when he popularized a unique crossover dribble now known simply as “The Shammgod.” The move lives on among today’s NBA stars, who utilize the move the same way Shammgod once did on the city courts.
- Kenny Smith — “The Jet” played his high school ball for the legendary Curran at Archbishop Molloy High School. After starring at UNC alongside Michael Jordan, Smith won back-to-back NBA championships as the Houston Rockets’ starting point guard. Today, he shares his knowledge and passion as one of the game’s most popular NBA analysts.
- Rod Strickland — From the Bronx, Strickland grew up playing organized ball for the famed New York Gauchos AAU program, where he refined his unique ability to drive to the basket and finish over taller defenders. As a junior, he led Truman High School to a state title. After becoming a two-time All-American at DePaul, Strickland played 17 years in the NBA.
- Dwayne Washington — A true showman, Dwayne “Pearl” Washington embodied what a New York City point guard was and inspired an entire generation. A playground phenom from Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, Washington brought his flashy play to Syracuse University. He tragically passed away from cancer in 2016 at the age of 52.“NYC Point Gods” — a must-see for any basketball fan — premieres on Friday, July 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime and will be available across the network’s on-demand and streaming platforms at premiere.