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Randy Smith summer basketball classic returns to Buffalo

Tim Newkirk remembers the days when he played at Humboldt Park, now MLK Park, in the Randy Smith league.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — This is the third year Pastor Tim Newkirk is organizing what he calls Randy's Summer Basketball Classic.

Former players will be recognized and honored.

Randy Smith graduated from Buffalo State College and went on to a great career with the NBA. He played for the Buffalo Braves. Smith died in 2009.

Smith loved the city where he played and attached his name to a summer basketball league in Humboldt Park, now MLK Park, that made a difference in the community.

Newkirk said he wants to see the energy recreated.

"It's the way you compete. We have to teach the youth you can compete and you can have honors," he said.

Newkirk is working to reduce violence in the city. Basketball, he believes, is a way to help. He wants kids to know that "it's OK to yield to competition. You don't have to go out with a bang, you can go out with a jumper."

He recalls that back in the day, "many of the community leaders didn't want us tearing up their property or running around being misfits, so they sponsored the league, they put the teams together, they put the kids together. They allowed it to be a respectful league that taught us how to have mentors. Randy Smith was iconic for being a mentor."

On Saturday from 11:10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion on Jefferson Avenue, there will be games for kids to compete. 

Later that evening, at 5:30, a red carpet ceremony at The George Urban Mansion, 280 Pine Ridge Road, Cheektowaga. It is an awards gala and tribute to players over the years.

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