The New York City Parks Department maintains 1,800 basketball courts around the five boroughs, where some of the best games in history have been staged without a single fan watching. That does not even count the schoolyards, which are maintained by the department of education and the individual schools, or the courts that are overseen by the New York City Housing Authority.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the city took down more than 2,100 rims around the city to discourage people from gathering in groups. A Parks Department spokesman said all the rims, which were down from April until July 2020, have been returned. But it is not feasible to keep nets on all the rims in all the parks, so the city does not even try. Wear-and-tear, removal and vandalism are simply too much to keep up with.
“I understand it,” Amador said, “because there are just so many parks everywhere that they would have to be putting up nets all the time. That’s where I come in.”
Originally from Rio Piedras in Puerto Rico, Amador moved to New York 27 years ago, working in real estate until recently. He is looking to branch into something else, but in the meantime, he plays basketball two or three times a week, and replaces the nets on his favorite courts as needed, roughly every nine weeks.
“The amount of play that these parks get is surprising,” he said. “It’s a lot and the nets really don’t last.”