The Al Locke City Basketball League began over 76 years ago and continues to give seventh, eighth and ninth grade boys from any school in the district of Malden a chance to play basketball recreationally.
Joe Levine, coordinator of the Malden Recreation department, is also the director of the program. He explained that it “used to be a church basketball league for Malden people, but it has expanded [since].” The Malden Recreation Department took over the league two years ago.
Unlike normal school basketball teams, everyone makes a team on the Al Locke League, either in the Eastern or Western conference. The team names are NBA pre-existing teams, and it works in a similar way. Teams in the Eastern conference play each other, teams in the Western conference play each other, and then the winning team from each conference play in a final championship.
“It gets people all over the city to get to start to know each other a little bit better,” said Levine.
Shai Cohen is a freshmen at Malden High who plays for the Thunder on the city basketball league and is very optimistic for his team. “It’s only the 3rd week of the program, but [his] team is 1-1” but “[they] have plenty to work on and get better a,t” explained Cohen. He continued to say that “[his] team is very good when it comes to defending the basket” but that “[they] work together very well in stopping the other team from scoring.”
Improving is something the teams are always working to do. “[His] team can work on being smart with the ball. sharing the ball and knowing exactly what to do with it,” said Cohen. “Basketball is very much a team sport.”
Jordan Rodriguez, a freshman at Malden Catholic, said that his team, the Lakers, have a lot to work on as well. “[They] are really good at ball hogging, [but they] just need to improve on passing [the ball].”
Luke Zubrzycki, who is also a freshmen at Malden High and also plays on the Lakers, explained that “[his] team is doing okay,” but they can “improve on offense because no one really pays attention except a few guys.”
Something about the program that a lot of people seem to have in common and enjoy is knowing everyone there. On the topic, Cohen said that, he “[likes] that you get to compete against your close friends” and that it’s a local league where [he knows] almost everyone.” In addition, Zubrzycki said the best part of the league is “.[his] team, because [he has] a coach that [he has] known since [he] was 8 years old.”
There are currently 114 members in the program. Levine explained that “it’s a tradition we want to keep going, and any kid in Malden can play, whether he’s a superstar or just a young man just learning how to play like everybody.”
The Al Locke Basketball League has games every Saturday at the Salemwood school going until March 9th, and everyone is welcome to come and watch.