‘It’s much better now’: Spurs-themed outdoor basketball court unveiled

After years of people playing on a lopsided court, familiar faces unveiled a brand new look Thursday in a northwest side neighborhood.

SAN ANTONIO — Generations of basketball players from one northwest side neighborhood are regulars at the Joe Ward Community Center.

After years of playing on a lopsided court, familiar faces unveiled a brand new look Thursday night.

KENS 5 learned why this particular location was a priority.

“We play every day here after school. Us three will walk from school,” said Justin Urive, who lives in the neighborhood.

“I was excited! I’ve just been waiting to play on it!” said teammate Daniel Rios, who also lives nearby.

The Joe Ward Community Center in the Sunshine Estates neighborhood is home to aspiring NBA players.

Urive and Rios play at the center often, as members of the Spurs Youth Basketball League.

“I just love basketball and I like the Spurs!” said teammate, David De La Cruz.

Thursday, the boys’ outdoor home court officially re-opened.

“It was sort of slanted and run down,” said Urive.

“It’s much better now!” said teammate, Jonah Castro.

Spurs Give, San Antonio Parks and Recreation and the San Antonio Parks Foundation unveiled the new court in a project done through Play SA.

The Joe Ward Community Center’s outdoor court was considered a priority fix, which involved pouring new concrete to provide a safer place for kids to play.

Spurs players Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley led a basketball clinic for dozens of children.

“It gives them a chance to come somewhere where they won’t have to worry about, ‘Where can we play? It’s a rough neighborhood, a rough street, the terrain’s not good, not ideal’. They have a place to come where it’s taken care of,” said youth basketball coach, Michael Cruz.

Cruz grew up in the neighborhood.

“High school days, after high school days, adult times, I play here,” he explained.

Cruz said players come to the Joe Ward Community Center to learn and develop — not just their personal game — but friendships. He added that in the past, the condition of the outdoor court challenged the game.

“One court, [the basket] wouldn’t be 10 feet tall, it would probably be 12, 13 feet because it was sloped,” said Cruz. “The other end, you had trees blocking the rims.”

Thursday night, he stood back and watched proudly as the younger generation honed their skills on the nicest outdoor court in town.

“Getting to further development like college, professional, wherever it is that they want to be, I believe this is a great starting point for them,” said Cruz.

When KENS 5 asked the youth players if they planned to challenge the Spurs to a scrimmage, Urive smiled and replied, “We’re all probably gonna lose, plus I jammed my thumb today.”

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