If you grew up with a obsessive compulsive relationship with hoops, then names like Skip To My Lou and the late "Alimoe" Evans should ring a bell. They certainly do for TSL member Scoop Jackson, who detailed the decline of the blacktop's relevance on the basketball scene in the past decade plus for ESPN online. So what happened? AAU inserted itself as the new showcase for young basketball talent while the And 1 street tour fell from its lofty perch. Peep Scoop telling the tale.
Now to blame this decline on AAU is like blaming a lack of fathers in black households for the constant decline of African-Americans in baseball, or blaming MMA for the decline in boxing's popularity.
Playgrounds don't see the Andrew Wigginses or Jabari Parkers or Aaron Gordons. There are more stories of LeBron James' exploits playing for the Ohio Shooting Stars and the Oakland Soldiers than in the parks or rec centers in Akron or the areas surrounding Cleveland. Kevin Durant is much more of a legend for what he did with his DC Blue Devils (where he played with Ty Lawson) than for anything he did unrestricted on the concrete in and around D.C. Brandon Jennings is more legendary for his play with the SoCal Playaz (where he played with Kevin Love) than for anything he did when he randomly showed up at a park to "get some run."
Basketball's rite of passage has changed.