The most popular outdoor basketball court in New York City is half the regulation size, offers no seating, and has sidelines bounded by a chain-link fence—but the summer league on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village has developed its share of stars and has become known throughout the world for another reason: Here, the only thing that matters is the game.
Inside the Cage follows the West 4th Street's summer league through a single season, chronicling its legendary history along the way. From 1970s playground legend Fly Williams to NBA veteran Anthony Mason and L.A. Lakers guard Smush Parker, three generations of players have mastered their game at West 4th Street. And the Cage itself—located in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America and frequented by men from the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem—proves that talent can flourish even in the most unlikely places.
Wight Martindale, Jr. has followed the West 4th Street Tournament for twenty years, and for the last decade and a half, served as one of four of its managing directors. After a successful career in journalism with Fairchild Publications as a reporter, bureau chief, and editor in chief, he shifted his attention to Wall Street, where he has been a senior vice president at Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, and others. He has taught at Temple, Villanova, and Lehigh Universities, studied at Oxford and Cambridge, and holds a PhD in English Literature from New York University.
"A summer at one of basketball's celebrated blacktops, where the characters are as captivating as the game." -- Sports Illustrated
"Employing colorful anecdotes and more than a few cautionary tales, Martindale introduces the characters -- from the NBA dreamers to the drug dealer turned coach to the scraggly scorekeeper called Moneybags -- who carry the story, and a good one it is." -- SI.com
"With muscled prose and a deft touch, Wight Martindale takes us into the heart of the Cage, the West 4th Street courts where basketball dreams and reputations are won and lost one trip down the floor at a time, where stirring human dramas play out beyond the roar of the big-time. Just a wonderful, heartfelt book." -- Adrian Wojnarowski, author of the New York Times bestselling The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball's Most Improbable Dynasty
"Inside the Cage is fascinating. It has the ring of authenticity and the stamp of authority. Anyone interested in any sports or in the sociology of the city [who reads it] will be moved and entertained. Officials of the National Basketball Association could learn a great deal [about personality management] from reading this book." -- Peter Gent, author of North Dallas Forty and former all-American basketball player at Michigan State University
"West 4th Street has been a terrific place to develop many, many youngsters. [The] true sportsmanship displayed there is terrific. Playground basketball has been the backbone of our game throughout the years. Hopefully, Inside the Cage will generate greater playground play." -- Mike Krzyzewski, Duke Basketball Head Coach and New York Times bestselling author
"The depth of reporting, along with Martindale's obvious love for the tournament, makes Inside the Cage an enjoyable read. For Kenny Graham and the players of West 4th Street, it provides some well-earned recognition. They'd keep playing without it, but it's about time someone gave them their due." -- John Matson, Dime Magazine
"Fascinating." -- Adam Zagoria, Passaic County Herald News
"A well-written tome on the very competitive basketball played at the [West 4th Street] playground." -- Lloyd Carroll, Queens Chronicle