In the roll of the streetball book of praise, John Strickland’s name will always remain. The 38-year-old passed away this week and the NYC streetball community’s rush of grief is openly displayed on facebook and other various websites, flooded with photos, video and praise for the player who revolutionized post play in the street, finishing with either hand at will on all comers.
Jay-Z immortalized Strick on his song PSA, an embodiment of Strickland’s personality as the well-loved “Crown Prince of the Finish” with the line “My homey Strick told me, ‘Dude finish your breakfast…”
I spoke with Darren Neal, the former Nike Pro-City statistician who grew up in Washington Heights with Strick. He remembered the early rise of a “fat chubby kid dribbling his ball on the sidewalk walking from the Bridge Apartment Projects on 178th and 179th and St. Nicholas to Highbridge Park to play ball. He always had his ball.” Strick grew into a legend playing at EBC, earning his nickname from Duke Tango and becoming a feared scorer demanding a double on each touch.
“Strick was fun to watch play,” Neal said, “and had fun playing the game. He made comments but always expected a laugh in return,” The one thing that comes to my mind is a game he played against Knick draft choice John Wallace from Syracuse at Nike Pro City. He was killing him and he came over to scorers table and said “I haven’t shown him everything yet, if I do that he’s going to think I’m cheatin.’”
Rest in peace John Strick. I’ve known you for a long time brother, watched and rooted when you did work in Knick camp and even before you knew me, I knew of your work and the association of brothers you ran with. Acts 24:15 partner, and may your family have peace and comfort from God, Jehovah himself, and his son Jesus Christ.