Czech men’s basketball has been riding a wave of unexpected successes in recent years. Satoransky et al. followed the amazing 6th place from the 2019 World Cup by participating in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, fans are now eagerly awaiting the performance of the representative team in the European Championship, whose matches will be- also host Prague in September. And it was in the heart of it – in Žižkov – that Tomáš Satoranský decided to completely repair the playground, where he fell under the deep baskets. “I feel it’s time to give something back to basketball,” said the captain of the national team.
Rucker Park. The legendary open-air basketball court in Harlem, New York, where NBA stars grew up and still lives on with endless games of local talent and veterans. Playing at Rucker Park is one of the most powerful basketball experiences, as is visiting Madison Square Garden – not even Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant missed a game on the Harlem floor back then.
A similar environment for a wider sports public is now being created in Žižkov in Prague under the patronage of Tomáš Satoranský. “An easily accessible basketball court is an important thing that arouses the passion for the game. As a boy, of course I improved at USK, but the greatest freedom was always going outside to play. That’s where I fell in love with basketball ,” the head of the national team exclusively told iSport.cz and Forbes magazine.
“Kluk z Flóry” refers to the area in Pražačka, which offers a basketball court in addition to a soccer field and courts for tennis, volleyball, and netball. Yes: the one where Satoransky fell on the orange ball. “Basketball players know that this is an iconic place of the Prague basketball community. I used to go there a lot when I was young,” recalled the point guard, who played six seasons in the NBA.
“Of course, I was inspired by America, as well as Spain and Croatia. In fact, almost every place has more outdoor basketball courts than here. And when one is created, it is multifunctional and has a purpose in soccer under the basket,” Satoranský lamented.
The renovated Pražačka will therefore offer young basketball players a comfort uncommon in the Czech Republic. The newly laid grain layer is ideal for outdoor play, the baskets will have a sturdy construction and sturdy frames that the destructive player can swing without fear. In the heat of summer, visitors to Pražačka can refresh themselves with drinks, the lights will work after dark, and a compressor will be available to inflate the ball.
“From Tomáš’s side, there was always a desire to return something to Czech basketball, but we were looking for the right platform. Now we have found him. There are several basketball courts, and if there are any, they are multifunctional, which usually means an intense battle between soccer players and basketball players. We want to prove that it can also be done in Czech conditions,” added Satoranský, his long-time agent Phillip Parun, another ambitious project driver.
The approximately three million dollar investment in the reconstruction of the “Prague Rucker Park”, whose owner is the city district of Prague 3, is irreversible – the essence is the greatest possible access to all the interested party. “In the beginning Tomáš guaranteed the entire budget, but over time we started adding other partners. Saty wanted to set an example,” explains Parun.
The NBPA, meaning the NBA Players Association, also supported Satoranský’s view. Each major league player is eligible for an annual contribution of $25,000 to their charitable project within the association: the NBPA doubles the amount chosen by the player. About 600,000 crowns will go to Žižkov thanks to Satoranský’s last season in 2021-22, and the same amount will be delivered by the Players’ Association.
“I know that with the help of the NBPA, other players in Europe like Kristaps Porzingis, Luka Dončič or Zaza Pachulia have built similar courts in their countries,” said the former point guard of Chicago or Washington: ” We just decided when to do it.. Last summer was very hectic because of the Olympics, but now is the right time. The goal is to enter the EURObasket at the beginning of September, but we will open on Saturday, August 13 , with a 3-on-3 streetball tournament and a hip hop concert.”
Ideally, Pražačka is not the only similar basketball court in the Czech Republic in the future. “We hope that it will serve as a flagship for others,” believes Parun: “It should not be a monument to Tomáš Satoranský. We like the model we chose and now try to inspire other players of basketball. A playground of local legends could be made in Brno. Vít Krejčí is planning something similar for Písek. It would be nice if Jan Veselý’s playground was in Ostrava. A famous player could be the patron of whole project: we rely on the basketball community and we want to show that it does not require tens of millions, but the cooperation of more enthusiastic people.”
The thirty-year-old basketball player himself, who will play in Barcelona from the new season, emphasizes that he understands and appreciates the current interest in basketball in the Czech Republic. “What happened during and after the World Cup 2019 in China also brought me to the whole idea,” Satoranský recalled three years ago: “The response of the fans and the public was incredible. The number of spectators with us playing! And how many people went to throw in the basket – my friends in China sent me pictures and videos: Look, there’s someone on the playground again! I hope we can keep basketball in the spotlight. We want build that.”
And will visitors to Pražačka meet a “boy from Flora” who is present during the evenings honing the dribble? “Everything is possible,” Satoransky smiled.
Facts about Prazačka
Conipur EPDM, which consists of a layer of full-colored rubber granules. It is a single-layer, water-permeable polyurethane surface with a flat, porous layer, laid over the existing asphalt floor.
Investment in renovation
Less than 3 million crowns.
Prague 3, ČBF, PPGROUP, Red Bull, The Streets, NBPA
August 13, when there will be a 3-on-3 streetball tournament, autograph session for representatives and a hip hop concert