Long-time Albany basketball tournament faces cancellation

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A long-running basketball tournament in Arbor Hill faces cancellation this year.

Hundreds play in the Joyce E King tournament during the second weekend of August. Latunde King started it 13 years ago in memory of his mother who was known throughout the community.

This year would have been the JEK tournament’s 14th year. The event drew hundreds of athletes to this court. The organizer says he’s willing to do what it takes, to keep the clock running.

It’s still hard for King to talk about his mother Joyce who passed away 14 years ago.

Everyone knew she shared her son’s love for the game.

“That’s what she loved, you know?”

So he started a tournament in her name.

“The kids, they’re able to showcase their talent. We’ve had various players that have been college bound, NBA bound, that have played in this tournament.”

Albany Police say the last three years have had significant violence.

“People were getting shot, stabbed, and knocked out,” Albany Police Chief Brandon Cox said. “There are multiple guns over the last couple of years that have been recovered. That’s not safe for everybody that’s attending that and it’s not safe for neighbors in the area.”

In light of recent attacks on law enforcement, some community leaders are calling for the tournament to bridge the divide.

“I think this could be a great time for police and community to get to that point where they can have better relationships,” Mark Robinson, 5th Ward of the Albany Common Council, said.

King is extending an invite to police, because he isn’t ready to bench the hundreds of JEK players.

“Not to the point where I’m ready to give up. I need answers, like what can we do to make this go on like it has to go on.”

There is a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the games, but organizers still need a special event permit, which they were denied in June.

Albany Police say organizers haven’t followed through with plans to keep the event safe.

Police say one year they responded to a shooting and a stabbing. Games have also been stopped because of fights.

King says many families and young athletes look forward to the games every year. He’s willing to do what it takes to keep it going.

“Not to the point where I’m ready to give up. I need answers like what can we do to make this go on. It has to go on. It’s so big now, not just because of my mom, but for the community,” King said.

Police says the organizers didn’t apply for a permit until late June.

Organizers would have to make compromises, may be on timing and security.

Chief Cox says that was the case for city events like St. Patrick’s Day Parade when colleges changed Spring Break schedules after things got out of hand one year.

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