Cinematic Atlas: A Guide to Spike Lee's New York Photos by Maurice Bes

O’Dwyer Gardens (He Got Game, 1998)

Neighborhood: Coney Island, Brooklyn
Address2950 West 33rd St.

While the boardwalk on Coney Island has seen some attempts at revitalization in the years since He Got Game, the projects nearby have not. Not much has changed over there, with the exception of the basketball courts. While the courts in O’Dwyer where Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) and  his father, Jake (Denzel Washington), once balled have been let go, others are the only indications of renovation for blocks. Basketball courts surround these projects; the sport is embedded in the social fabric here. A number of NBA stars have come out of Coney Island, including Sebastian Telfair, Lance Stevenson, and Stephon Marbury. I spoke with a number of residents while walking through O'Dwyer, including Michael Fequiere, who said, “The courts are never empty. For these kids it’s the only way they see to get out.” He Got Game engages this idea with grandiose results, making for one of Lee's most underrated films.

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