A Taste of Spring Is All It Takes to Pack Philly’s Best Streetball Courts.

It was a warm, late-May day perfect for basketball when a car parked outside the Capitolo Playground in South Philadelphia at 9th and Passyunk.

When the car parked, everyone on the court was amazed at who got out.

Once again, the madness of March is evoking the fever of springtime.


Each year, from the first April temperate weather until the autumn chill of Thanksgiving — some of the finest basketball players in the world gather on Philadelphia’s outdoor basketball courts from dawn until dusk.

For the older guys among us, dropping by the courts for limited play during the morning hours is our limit.

For the younger generation — who could “run it back” on the surface of the moon for hours if asked to play in a game — matchups run from the daytime heat to the yellowish glow against the night sky and illumination of high stadium lights.

The sound of bouncing basketballs and clanks against the the cylindrical metal rim fill the surrounding air.

Photo Courtesy of UnSplash.com.

From the city to the suburbs to the packed outdoor basketball courts down the shore, whose asphalt surfaces have seen Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, and Doug Overton— here are some of the best basketball destinations:

Premier Ball Leagues in Ocean Township runs leagues from the beginning of May and has an over 30 league on Wednesday nights for those who just can’t let go at St. George Greek Orthodox Church. For those who have families who own a shore home or rent for weeks at a time, it’s a location for some vacation basketball.

Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Philly ranks 6th in outdoor basketball courts according to Courts of the World. If you a little history to accompany your pickup game, Lemon Hill in the Fairmount Park area offers some of the best basketball in the City against the backdrop of the historic Lemon Hill Mansion, which is also beautifully lit against the river at night.

Speaking of historic, how about Front Street, Philadelphia’s first north-south street running parallel to the Delaware River after the City was designed in 1682. The famous Front Street Gym, which dates from the 1950s, is just one of the attractions with The Front Street Courts, which over the years has seen talent like Wilt Chamberlain and Doug Overton play on its concrete surfaces.

Perhaps the most famous of all of Philly’s outdoor courts — 16th and Susquehanna in the heart of North Philadelphia — inspired a short film called 16th and Philly.

Wherever you bring your basketball in the City of Philadelphia, It’s a tradition that doesn’t stop until the automatic timer turns the lights off each evening.


The following day, as sure as the sun rises — it all starts again.

Oh, and back at Capitolo Playground in South Philadelphia at 9th and Passyunk — the person who got out of that car to run some ball with the local kids was a big deal — literally.

It was Joel Embiid.


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