CONTACT: I (212) 306-3322

NYCHA Celebrates Conclusion of Junior Knicks Basketball League with Championship Games at the Johnson Community Center in East Harlem

The league and other youth programming was supported by $2 million from the Mayor’s Office

NEW YORK – On Sunday, the Johnson Community Center in East Harlem hosted citywide championship games as part of the conclusion for the 2021 Junior Knicks NYCHA basketball league. The slate of games for the 11 & under; 13 & under; and 15 & under divisions conclude a two-month-long co-educational basketball league served roughly 2,000 participants on 78 teams across New York City. During the daylong tournament, a team representing Carver Houses in Harlem bested the team representing Hammel Houses in Queens to claim the 11 & under division. A basketball team representing Hammel Houses would emerge victorious in the 13 & Under division, beating the Bronx River 13 & Under squad. Finally, Bronx River houses was able to hold off a team from the Penn Wortman campus in East New York, Brooklyn to claim the 15 & under division championship. Legendary Knicks basketball player John Starks joined with senior NYCHA leadership to tip-off the first slate of games and cheer participants on.

“The game of basketball is an institution in New York City and across NYCHA campuses, providing our young people with an outlet for exercise, camaraderie, and healthy competition,” said NYCHA Chair & CEO Greg Russ. “We are incredibly grateful to the many partners, parents, coaches, and children who made this league possible – and we look forward to seeing this exciting partnership continue for the benefit of NYCHA residents for many years to come.”

“Investing in the social and emotional development of young people living in NYCHA developments takes many forms and our partnership with the Junior Knicks Basketball League is a testament to our commitment in this sphere,” said NYCHA EVP for Community Engagement and Partnerships Sideya Sherman and Executive Director, Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity. “These championship games represent a labor of love for the Authority and would not be possible if not for the various community stakeholders who helped make this happen.”

In July 2021, Mayor de Blasio provided $2 million to support the league and an anti-violence curriculum. The league was rolled out at an initial 24 NYCHA campuses before expanding the basketball league to two additional campuses: Hammel Houses in Rockaway, Queens and O’Dwyer Gardens from Coney Island, Brooklyn. NYCHA households applied to the league between July 23 and September 1, 2021. The start of the league was precipitated by a Coaches’ Clinic that was also held at Johnson Community Center and the league kick-off was held at NYCHA’s Wald Houses on September 8th. Legendary Knicks player John Starks was also in attendance for that event in addition to NYCHA leadership.

The two-month league supported by the Mayor’s Office builds on the refurbishment of more than a dozen NYCHA basketball courts that were funded through a $4 million grant provided by federal law enforcement partners, the NYPD, and the District Attorney of New York Office earlier this year. As part of the programming for the Junior Knicks basketball league, weekly Skills & Drills clinics were also held for children aged four through nine-years-old.

The 26 courts that participated in the Junior Knicks basketball league included:







· Bronx River

· Castle Hill (MAP Site)

· Forest

· Jackson

· Marble Hill

· McKinley

· Sack Wern

· Breukelen

· Marcy

· Penn Wortman

· Sheepshead Bay

· Tompkins (MAP Site)

· Williamsburg

· O’Dwyer Gardens

• Queensbridge (MAP Site)

• Ravenswood

• Woodside

• Hammel

• Douglass

• Jefferson

• King Towers

• Rutgers

• Wagner (MAP Site)

• Wald

• Wilson

· Stapleton (MAP Site)


NYCHA households applied to the league between July 23 and September 1 and a coaches’ clinic was held on September 3 and September 4 at the Johnson Houses Community Center in Upper Manhattan. The league kick-off was held on September 8 from 1-4 p.m. at Wald Houses that was attended by Knicks legend John Starks – who played for the franchise from 1990-1998.

The games at all 26 sites in the 11 & under division; the 13 & under division; and the 15 & under division began the week of September 27, with borough playoffs held on Saturday, October 9 and a borough championship game being held the following day. Citywide playoffs for the three divisions were played Friday, October 15. Additionally, on October 15, 13 young people from the league received the opportunity to play at Madison Square Garden during half-time a pre-season game for the New York Knicks.

The Junior Knicks Basketball League represents a continuation of athletic basketball programming at the Authority, in the same vein as NYCHA’s former Citywide Basketball league, which was one of the largest-running basketball leagues in the tri-state area. Annually, the program engaged 3,000 young NYCHA residents across 250 teams. Over 5,000 family and community members were also engaged through games and related events. In addition to coaching, the program incorporated educational workshops and other skill building activities.

In addition to basketball programming, the $2 million in support from the Mayor’s Office also will support the roll-out of NYCHA’s “Heal the Violence” initiative, which recognizes violence as a public health issue particularly in NYCHA communities where violence among young people occurs at higher rate than in other parts of the city.



The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the largest public housing authority in North America, was created in 1935 to provide decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. NYCHA is home to roughly 1 in 15 New Yorkers across over 177,000 apartments within 335 housing developments. NYCHA serves over 350,000 residents through the conventional public housing program (Section 9), over 20,000 residents at developments that have been converted to PACT/RAD, and over 75,000 families through federal rent subsidies (the Section 8 Leased Housing Program). In addition, NYCHA connects residents to opportunities in financial empowerment, business development, career advancement, and educational programs. With a housing stock that spans all five boroughs, NYCHA is a city within a city.