AAU/grassroots basketball is taking a real beating… The summer version of the city game is being blamed for all the ills that prevail among today’s ballers. Indeed, some of the biggest names in basketball are trashing AAU/grassroots hoops…

The “Big Ticket” himself, Kevin Garnett has said, “AAU has killed our league. Seriously, I hate to even say this, but it’s real.”

Damn…

Kobe Bryant emphatically states “My generation is when AAU basketball really started becoming shit. I got lucky because I grew up in Europe and everything there was still fundamental, so I learned all the basics… I think we’re doing a tremendous disservice to our young basketball players right now…”

Ouch…

According to Charles Barkley, “This new generation, they all stick together, they all play together, they’re all AAU babies.”

Huh? These guys should have been in North Philly today… Here in the City of Brotherly Love, AAU Clubs still play for keeps… Niggas be rumbling on the hardwood for real!!

If they were there to witness it, KG, Sir Charles and Kobe would have to acknowledge that given the tremendous size and scope of AAU/grassroots basketball it’s inappropriate to categorize all of it one way or another. Literally, tens of thousands of boys and girls play organized basketball in the spring and summer every year. There are good programs… There are bad programs… There are middle of the road programs… Just like everything else…

Truth be told one of the most competitive, intense and hard fought games I have witnessed over the past year was played today on the beautiful Girard College campus in North Philadelphia.

Fuck that shit Barkey is talkin’ bout… There was no love lost between K-Low Elite, Philadelphia’s Adidas sponsored grassroots program and Philly Pride, Under Armour’s flagship program in the city…. These coaches, program directors and players wanted to kick the the other team’s ass… This is no secret… This game meant something… Charles is fuckin’ clueless, these kids did not stick together.

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This was like “prison ball”! This was no-holds barred… Bare-knuckle… “Thrilla in Manilla” type shit…

Every pass, every shot, every cut, every call was contested…

Philly Pride came into the game with a gaudy 6-2 record in the Under Armour Association. K-Low elite has struggled out the gate with a 2-6 record on the highly competitive Adidas Gauntlet.

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Throw those records out… They don’t mean shit when these Philly-based clubs face one another… All that matters is: Who wants it more?

Today… K-Low Elite was the better team… In fact, K-Low Elite outplayed Philly Pride in every facet of the game for 31 minutes and 59 seconds. Anyone watching the game would be hard pressed to make the case that Philly Pride should have won the game. Led by Kyle Sample, K-Low Elite had a well-thought out game plan. They managed to take Philly Pride’s pair of long wings – 6’6” Justin Steers and 6’7” Jack Clark – completely out of the game.

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The low scoring affair was controlled by K-Low Elite from the opening buzzer. The longer Philly Pride guards could not contain Damon Wall. He was able to penetrate the Philly Pride defense at will. He made very effective use of crossovers, in and outs and hesitation moves to keep Philly Pride off balance. Although he didn’t score much, Wall dictated the pace of the game from the outset. The high powered Philly Pride offense sputtered.

With 4:39 left in the first half, K-Low Elite led 13-8. The game was a real slugfest. It was like the Pistons and the Celtics from the mid 1980s… No MUTHAFUCKIN layups allowed…

Seth Pinkney from out of nowhere… SWAT!! Get that shit outta here…

At times, it seemed as if there were no referees. If there was no blood drawn, it was highly unlikely a foul would be called. Most importantly, with Wall driving, dishing and causing major problems for Chris Arcidiacono and Denelle Holly, K-Low Elite was in very good shape. Although they too struggled to score, they controlled the flow of the game.

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At halftime, the lead was 20-14 and it was hard to see it changing. Philly Pride’s bruising front court featuring Ed Croswell, Wil McNair and Elijah Kiah-El rebounded well but they couldn’t get anything going offensively.

Everyone in the newly renovated Girard College gym had to think this game was firmly in hand.

Then it happened… Wall sprained his ankle…

Uh… Ohhhhh

The loss of their primary ball handler really impacted K-Low Elite. Kharon Randolph quickly stepped up and filled the void temporarily. He made several HUGE shots off the dribble. Using his quickness to create space, like Wall he appeared to be too much for the bigger Philly Pride guards.

Pickron and Bretrand, two outstanding Catholic League wings, were basically cancelling each other out…

But slowly and steadily Chris Arcidiacono showed why he has emerged as a solid mid-major combo guard recruit. Lacking the lateral quickness of the smaller K-Low Elite guards, he more than made up for it with grit, determination and hustle. He doesn’t say much on the court, but he’s clearly a pain in the asses of his opponents. He’s always there!

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Splash…

Chris Arcidiacono hits a three… Still it looks like K-Low Elite has the game well in hand.

Kharon Randolph was fighting though, he continued to get his defender off balance, rise up and make big shots of his own. Really talented kid…

Splash…

Chris Arcidiacono hits another three… Game is getting tighter…

Then, the refs decided to make themselves know… After letting the kids play for about 28 minutes, they decided to interject and make some very puzzling calls…

The biggest of all the questionable calls was the awarding of a basket on a very clear incident of basket interference. Jack Clark tipped a ball that was well within the cylinder… Clear cut… No basket!

At least that was the initial call… Then the refs huddled and they decided to award Philly Pride the basket… Very BIG… Very BAD call…

…and then…

Splash… from about 30 feet, Allen Betran makes his only basket of the game…

What the fuck?

I thought this thing was over…

Now Philly Pride has the ball with a few seconds left and, who else, Chris Arcidiacono pulls up from deep… He misses but the rebound is tapped to the ever alert Kiah-El. He immediately gathers himself and lays the ball in the basket as time runs out…

Philly Pride wins at the buzzer…

K-Low Elite won that game for 31 minutes and 59 seconds… Philly Pride won the last 1 second…

Garnett, Kobe and Barkley should have been there…

Ain’t no buddy ball in Philly!