Crew Love hoops tourney back this weekend in Franklin Field

Photo by Seth Daniel
The annual Crew Love basketball tournament will tip off this weekend in Harambee Park at Franklin Field, with the best of Boston’s regular guys competing and battling on the court for two days. Also at stake are bragging rights for the Dorchester vs. Roxbury neighborhood games (men and women), and a new Mattapan vs. Hyde Park men’s game.

This Saturday and Sunday Boston’s best “average joes, not the pros” will compete at the highest level for neighborhood, and crew, bragging rights as the 11th Crew Love basketball tournament kicks off in Harambee Park at Franklin Field.

Jay Branch, 36, and his closest friends have brought another installment of the 10-team men’s basketball crew tournament to the park, providing a family-friendly and safe atmosphere for everyone to come enjoy park ball as it’s supposed to be played – with fun times and neighborhood boasting front and center.

“Our tournament is more of joes and not pros tournament,” said Branch. “Everyone that comes out to play are just real, everyday people. We want the pros to sit back and enjoy watching other people play. There are no cash prizes, just everyone playing for bragging rights. We’re just trying to make it fun.”

One of the key elements of the event outside of the 10-team single elimination crew tournament is the Roxbury vs. Dorchester neighborhood bragging rights series – in both men’s and women’s installments.

For the men, Roxbury leads the series 2-1, but there is some controversy about that, as the first version of the game in 2017 had to be called due to poor conditions in the Mildred Avenue gym. With only two minutes left and Roxbury with a four-point lead, the game was called for safety reasons.

Dorchester says it was a ‘no contest,’ Roxbury claims the win.
Saturday will be the day to see which team can take home the neighborhood bragging rights. Likewise, for the women, Dorchester claimed honors over Roxbury last year, and it will be of interest to many to see if Dorchester can keep the winning streak alive.

A huge new element in the neighborhood bragging rights series is the first-ever Mattapan vs. Hyde Park men’s game – which has never been done but is highly anticipated in hoops circles.

“We think that will bring a lot of new people up Blue Hill Avenue to Crew Love that might not have come otherwise,” said Branch.

Another change will be during the tournament games, in the first half of games and only once per game, a player can call out another player on the opposite team. That will send a blast up from the DJ booth, signifying that both players are to isolate one-on-one for that possession.

The first installment of Crew Love was in 2013, and it spent seven years at Garvey Park in Neponset. They have been in Harambee since 2019. The neighborhood bragging rights series began at the Mildred Avenue Community Center gym in 2017, but was folded into the Crew Love tourney in 2021.

Last year Celtics forward Jaylen Brown showed up for almost the entire day on Saturday, and Mayor Michelle Wu paid a special visit as well. Rumors abound of other NBA players that might be showing up this year to watch “the joes” at work on the court.

“It’s great to see it come from literally a single game to something that is really known,” said Branch. “Crew Love is something people look forward to. We want to go back to having fun and not playing for the money. People know they’re going to come and just have fun and it’s going to be competitive at the same time.”
Aside from Branch, other founders include Andrew Angus, Philip Jean, Phillip Bell, Gregory Jean, Richard Nichols, and Cesar Veal.
The first tip on Saturday (Aug. 12) is at 10 a.m. and will continue until 7 p.m. Sunday’s schedule will go from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Look for more coverage from the weekend, and more history behind the tourney, in next week’s Reporter.


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