Ballin’ at the Graveyard: A Film Review
by David J. Leonard | special to NewBlackMan (in Exile)
Growing up in Los Angeles, I spent many weekends, some evenings, and most of my summers on the basketball court. Whether on the courts at my high school, at any number of local parks, or other spots spread out around West Los Angeles, pickup basketball was a fixture of my teenage years. I love to play ball; while a mediocre player on my best days the chance to run with my boys or prove myself to others was something I relished growing up.
Through college and graduate school, I continued to play whenever I made it back to Los Angeles; visits home came with an expectation of multiple days of ballin’. Although kids and AGE, not to mention geography (not a lot of pick-up games in Pullman) has resulted in my retirement from the game, the cultural, social, and personal significance of this space remains strong in my mind. Based on both nostalgia for the Saturdays spent on the court, calling “next,” and even the arguments about a travelling calls, and my intellectual curiosity about the subculture of the “pickup game,” I was very excited to watch Ballin’ at the Graveyard, a new film from Basil Anastassiou and Paul Kentoffio.
Chronicling the weekend battles at Albany, New York’s Washington Park – the Graveyard – the film is much more than a basketball film. It is a glimpse into the sociology – the rules, the community – of the subculture of pickup basketball.
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