With a motivating combination of warmth, sun, and shade, the Panhandle, located at the eastern end of Golden Gate Park has seen its fair share of intense basketball competitions and fierce practice sessions by some of the local residents, as well as high school and college students. The atmosphere is for the most part calming as soothing tones of green surround some of the oldest trees thriving in the county of San Francisco. At Kezar Pavilion, the basketball play and action reaches a higher level of intensity as professional stars take to the courts when the temperatures rise.
Exploring the Panhandle
The Panhandle is a section of space situated at Golden Gate Park that measures close to a mile long and one block wide. Fell Street to the north, Oak Street to the south, and Baker Street to the east surrounds this rather lengthy, narrow stretch of land. Lying south of the Panhandle, you will find the infamous Haight-Ashbury District, which was quite popular during the 60s as a haven for hippies. Two streets are found within the Panhandle: Stanyan Street located at the western tip and Masonic Avenue running straight through the middle.
The Panhandle also offers two paths throughout the area, connecting Golden Gate Park to Baker Street. Throughout the year, the vicinity swells with walkers, joggers, and mothers pushing along their little ones in strollers on one path, while the other is designated for bike riding. Located between Stanyan Street and Masonic Avenue, a playground accompanies the basketball courts. Trickling in from the University of San Francisco, it is not uncommon to see students from the main campus have a go with one another at Golden Gate Park. The campus stands covers a little more than 50 acres of space positioned north of the Panhandle.
Exploring Kezar Pavilion
As you venture to the southwest corner of Golden Gate Park, an indoor arena called Kezar Pavilion accommodates a wide-range of sporting practices and events, including basketball. The pavilion serves as the venue home to a variety of local teams, such as the San Francisco Pilots (an American Basketball Association team). Each summer, more than 25,000 fans gather at Kezar in hopes of catching the likes of NBA stars, such as Kurt Rambis, Jason Kidd, or Gary Payton.
When the warmest of temperatures begin to take over, it is time for the San Francisco Pro-Am Basketball League (SF Bay Area Pro-City) to emerge. This professional-amateur summer league involves the likes of high school, college, and professional participants that has gained quite a bit of attention over the years.
For younger players trying to break into the college scene or already making a name, the summer league becomes an opportunity to catch the eye of talent scouts looking for the next best thing. For professional players coming back from foreign competition or the NBA, the league offers the perfect chance to stretch their legs during the off-season.
From the middle of June to the middle of August, games are held from Monday to Thursday. There is no charge to view the lightning-fast passing or spectacular ESPN dunks; all of which takes places within the Kezar Pavilion. Bringing professional-level basketball to the community has been a tradition since the league started in 1979. While teams are allowed an open roster policy, it is not uncommon to see some of the same faces grace the court each year.
For the most part, the flashiness of street ball is kept hidden for the majority of game play, especially from those trying to impress a talent scout scanning the new crop of abilities on the court. Occasionally, no-look passes with flair make the cut in an attempt to please the fans, who are more than eager to support the their favorite players.
Overall, the basketball courts located across Golden Gate Park offer free play and practice throughout the year, as well as entertaining events that attract the masses.