'Sweet Spot' With Mike Sugerman: What May Be New York's Longest-Running Scheduled Pickup Basketball Game

May 31, 2018 - 8:49 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Talk about a regular routine.

A group of guys has been gathering twice a week at a Manhattan gym for the past 40 years, in what could be the city’s longest-running scheduled pickup basketball game. WCBS 880’s Mike Sugerman met them in this week’s “Sweet Spot.”

The NBA Finals have begun. But there is action other places than the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and the Oracle Arena in Oakland.

“This game has been going on for 40 years,” said Jackie Bravo of the McBurney YMCA on 14th Street.

“We have one fella in the game. He’s not here. He’s away in summers. He’s 85,” says Steve Harris, who is 59 and a young man in the group.

There are upwards of 20 regulars of varying ages. They include the publisher of Harper’s Magazine, Yoko Ono’s former driver, lawyers, educators, a dentist, a voiceover artist.

But on this court, they are all just players.

“Good guys here. Minimal fighting. He starts most of them,” said Andy Hahn, 57, pointing at Bob DeSantis, one of the youngest looking 66-year-olds you’ll ever meet.

They know all of each other jokes, as well as each other moves on the courts. No one is surprising anyone here after all this time.

They’ve been playing for a long time – and they play for a long time.

“We used to show up at 6 o’clock and play half-court – two on two, three on three, just to warm up, And it’s mostly the older guys,” said DeSantis. “And then we’d play full court at 7.”

“Older meaning over 70,” Hahn chimed in.

Some of the regulars are more youthful. Alan Aja is in his 40s, and he has been playing since grad school.

“When I’m complaining about my arms and my knees and all these things, I think about the guy who’s 40 years older than me and who’s out on this court,” Aja said, “and I say, 'You know what? I’m going to go out there and play a team sport.’”

Brian Douglas tore his tendon, ligament, and meniscus in his left knee 1974. And that’s his good knee.

But he wouldn’t miss these games.

“You’re pumping like Drano through your system – cleaning out all of your vessels and stuff,” Douglas said. “Otherwise you get plaque.”

And indeed, it seems to be working.