BlackTop Roots Series Part II: Sligo Playground
Paul Jakciewicz, Legend Coalition Staff Writer
Sligo Playground in Montgomery County Maryland was known for its level of competition and top talent it drew from around the local area. It was a landmark from the 60’s through the early 90’s. In what is one of the richest counties in the United States, it served as a place of unity and fun for many regardless of background. Pros such as Steve Francis, Jason Miskiri, Lonny Baxter found time to test their skills there. While we also must pay homage to the “playground legends” such as Antoine “Lump” Wills, Jamar Hutchinson, Ray Wilson and Andre Cumberbatch to name a few. I was able to catch up with a few legendary ballplayers from the Maryland/Washington D.C. area that played at Sligo.
Brian Magid was named first-team All-Metropolitan while at Blair High School. Magid ended up playing basketball for two years at the University of Maryland, but then decided to transfer to George Washington University.
Magid ended up getting drafted in the 8th round of the 1979 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers.
Magid started playing ball at Sligo back in the early 1970’s.
“I started going down to Sligo as an 8th grader in the late Spring of 1971 when I was 14. Fortunately for me, I knew many of the older guys who played down there through some friend’s older brothers and also from playing the previous year in a high school fall league at Broad Acres Elementary with many players from Blair and Springbrook. The experience for me, as someone who had just played on his first actual team in the 7th grade, couldn't have been more beneficial. The best thing that a young player could do then - and still do now - is play with older, more experienced guys. You are forced to learn how to get open and how to get your shot off against bigger, stronger, quicker players. If you're lucky enough like I was, there will be some players who you try and emulate and copy. At Sligo, with both high school and college players and older playing on a daily basis, it was a crash course in survival for me. In retrospect, from a basketball growth and knowledge standpoint, it was the best thing that could have happened. Although at the time all I was thinking about was getting picked up to play. I just remember my Mom and Pop dropping me off at 4pm or 5pm and picking me up at 10pm.
“I can only speak for the years I played down there, which was 1971-76 or so (Hillandale was my go-to place through the end of the 70s). At the time, it was one of the prime county places to get great runs in with a wide range of players from Blair, Springbrook, Northwood areas, etc. As I said earlier, I was a younger kid and most of the guys who showed up to play at Sligo when I started going down there were already playing in college or after. Northwood, Blair and Springbrook all had great teams from the late 60s through the mid-70s and all those players were Sligo-born and bred for the most part or at least to some degree. I can name 20-30 Sligo regulars from that time that would make a great reunion if it were to happen. I'm certain that all of them share the same fond memories of Sligo. I still run into a few guys from the old days and Sligo is always mentioned. You just made some great friendships playing hoop that endure to this day. We all shared a kinship, which was/is a love of the game.”
Magid credits Ed Peterson with helping him grow as a player.
“My game improved by learning from who I still consider the greatest shooter ever and who remains a close friend to this day, Ed Petersen from Springbrook. He opened my eyes to some things that I never would have known. Also, there was another guy from Blair, Steve Rubin, who had the most ridiculous fade away ever. I stole that too,” he said, while laughing. “That was huge for me as the fade away became a staple of my game. They were regulars at Sligo. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Sligo taught you how to compete. It was win or sit down. That meant you had to compete...and hard, too. No better incentive to play hard and win than the fact that if you lose, you may have to sit out for an hour.”
Riley Inge made the All-Metropolitan team out of Paint Branch High School back in 1992. He ended up moving on and playing his college ball at Mount Saint Mary’s.
Inge currently owns his own AAU program that helped produce Philadelphia 79ers star rookie Markelle Fultz.
Inge first started playing basketball at Sligo in 1989 and says he learned a lot from guys like Troy MaDoo and Terry Lancaster.
“There was a guy on the court named Troy MaDoo. Troy MaDoo was a fat overweight point guard that runs the pick and roll to this very day, better than Kyrie Irving, John Stockton, anybody else I’ve ever seen. This guy to this very day is the best player I’ve ever seen execute the pick and roll,” said Inge. “He understood the game whereas he could talk his team to a victory by directing his teammates on offense. I was in awe of him because he played the position that I played. So that I knew that if I just watched him and kept my ears open, I couild learn a lot from him.”
Inge says that Troy ended up taking him under his wing and help him to understand how to play point guard.
Inge’s says another person that took him under his wing was Terry Lancaster.
“Terry was the first person to put me on their Urban Coalition team. I was kind of young, but he told me that I was ready, so I ended up on his team,” he said.
Dave Vanterpool played his high school ball at Blair High School and was named All-Metropolitan in 1991. He ended up playing college basketball at St. Bonaventure and then one year in the NBA for the Washington Wizards. He also played pro ball overseas.
Vanterpool is now an assistant coach for the Portland Trailblazers. He credits Sligo for helping him to learn how to adjust to playing with different people on the fly.
“Learning how to play with different players and the things that they could do and they like to do, it helped me in being able to adjust my game. Or to figure out how to use other players to the best of their ability from what I saw,” said Vanterpool.
Vanterpool also said that playing against older guys helped him grow as a player.
Tracy Jackson played high school basketball for Paint Branch and was named to the All-Metropolitan team in 1977. He ended also becoming an All-American, which led to him playing four years at Notre Dame University.
Jackson then went on to get drafted by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the 1981
NBA Draft. He played a total of four years in the NBA.
“I played at Sligo a few times during the school year, usually around four or five in the afternoon. Competition was good. You could not lose and expect to be back on the court anytime soon. All of my experiences playing outdoors helped my game, especially when I would go up against the top players in Montgomery County. I was not a regular there..but I do recall playing against Brian Magid (Blair), Donald Davis (Rockville), Ricky Thomas (Poolesville),” said Jackson.
With brand new courts and a very dynamic pedigree, can the famed court reclaim its reputation? To be continued