Playground / Jul 27, 2012 / 10:30 am

Basketball In 2012: The Summer of Shootings

Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson (photo. Matt Brown)

It was bad enough when the Dark Knight Rises shooting took over television and every news station in America for three solid days last week. It was depressing, and listening to the same details over and over again only heightened my anxiety, despite not being able to change the channel. Every year in this country, people are killed by gunfire, and I’m not sure of the statistics, but doesn’t it feel like things are getting worse? No place is sacred anymore. You can’t go to a midnight premiere for one of the most anticipated movies of the summer without being scared. And now after the happenings of the past few days, it seems like you can’t play ball either without worrying about who’s carrying.

Yesterday afternoon, Iona recruit Michael Haynes was shot and killed in his hometown of Chicago during a pickup game while he was attempting to break up a fight. The kid had taken a long road to get to where he was – going from school to school in high school, then attending a prep school before UTEP and a junior college followed soon after – and is now dead because he got in the middle of a fight that had reported escalated throughout the day.

That came just hours after a shooting went down at the famed Rucker Park. Reportedly, five people were taken to the hospital to receive treatments for gunshot wounds, and while they will all survive, the reasoning behind it all was petty. With Nate Robinson in the stands – he escaped unhurt – a fan grew upset over a call, and just pulled a gun out and started firing.

“They started arguing, about a bad call or something like that,” Rodney Harris, 47, told The New York Daily News. “The guy was standing no more than five feet away from me. He pulled a gun out of his pocket and shot once. He then shot one more time. Everyone started running.”

“He was real close to me,” Harris said. “I thought I got shot.”

Afterwards, I had a conversation with Dime’s Editor & Publisher Josh Gotthelf. He attends streetball games all the time across the country, and quite often in New York City. With all of the escalating violence – Gotthelf told me he’s seen two fights just in the past few days that nearly became uncontrollable – what can the Big Apple do other than stop the basketball?

To top it all off, a 4-year-old was shot and killed in the Bronx just days ago after he was caught in the crossfire taking place during a basketball tournament.

No place is sacred anymore, not even the most famous playground court in the world. If the violence continues, what will become of the streetball culture that helps make the basketball in this country so unique? I hope we don’t have to find out.

Why are things getting so violent here?

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