The sun is finally out, the Blazers don't play until October and Game of Thrones is taking the summer off. You have no excuse, Portland—it's finally time to grab that dusty old rock from the back of the closet and get serious about improving your jump shot.
Whether you're hooping in jorts or brand-new Dame 4s, haven't played since grade school or still brag about being a rec league all-star, there's a ton of outdoor spaces to enjoy in Portland, no matter your skill level. Here are some of the best—and most unexpected—basketball courts within city limits.
The GOAT: Irving Park
(Northeast 7th Avenue and Fremont Street)
Ask anyone who plays basketball in this city to name their favorite court and one place always comes up. Irving Park really is the spot for a competitive pickup game. It's where you might see someone actually attempt to dunk on a fast break. It also has the most variety—the 16-acre park contains two outdoor (though not regulation-size) courts flanked by eight other baskets and one fully covered court for those winter days when you still want to get a few shots up. One downside is that all the backboards have double rims, which are pretty unforgiving if you're not a deadeye shooter. But the central location makes it easy to meet friends there, and on a nice afternoon there's always at least a game or two to join.
Most Famous: Wallace Park
(Northwest 25th Avenue and Raleigh Street)
Wallace is well-known in Portland pickup lore: It's the park where Bill Walton used to shoot around—and play Frisbee, presumably stoned—when he lived in Northwest Portland in the late '70s. The Big Red-Head even wore a custom Wallace Park T-shirt to the Blazers championship parade in 1977. It's almost unfathomable now to imagine an NBA MVP challenging groups of teenagers to a game of 21—Joel Embiid's recent viral cameos around Philly aside—but those were different, heady times. Today, Wallace still sees regular pickup games and has a solid run, though the lack of shade makes it too hot to play in the afternoon sun.
Best Place to Play With Your Buds: Peninsula Park
(700 N Rosa Parks Way)
There are courts in the city that have regular runs, and then there are courts like the one at Peninsula Park that never seem crowded. This is the ideal spot to come with a group to play by yourselves without having to wait or join in on an already established game.
The court—one of the 90 in town resurfaced by a $2 million Nike donation in 2002—is in decent shape, with lots of room to maneuver outside the 3-point line and lights at the adjacent tennis courts to play after dusk. But the best amenity is probably the close proximity to the Peninsula Park Community Center, a super-convenient place to change clothes, use the restroom, or refill a water bottle.
Most Underrated: Oregon Park
(Northeast 30th Avenue and Oregon Street)
Nestled just off Northeast 28th avenue between Glisan Street and Sandy Boulevard, Oregon Park is a small gem that's secretly great for hoops. The Nike court is in solid shape, with four baskets (three currently with nets), a clear, unfaded 3-point line and nearby trees that block out much of the midday sun. The court is on the smallish side, about the size of a grade-school gym—perfect for an early summer four-on-four run when you're not quite in peak shape.
Best Secret Hoop: Madrona City Park
(North Greeley Avenue and Going Court)
Tucked directly behind the Adidas Village but technically city-operated, this tiny park is rarely used and perfect for honing your game. Accessible via stairs from Greeley or up above on Going Court, this hidden basketball oasis has two separate hoops in decent shape. Yes, there's a little rust on the backboards and grass is growing between the cement cracks, but it's an easy trade-off for a spot to come shoot by yourself or practice a free-throw routine.
Best Scenery: Westmoreland Park
(Southeast McLoughlin and Bybee boulevards)
Pro tip: Anytime you shoot an air ball at Westmoreland Park, laugh it off and say you just got distracted by all the natural beauty around you. But this park isn't just here for your Instagram filters: It's a quiet, solid place to work on your post moves. One a recent Thursday afternoon, there were an equal number of people—two—playing basketball as there were fly-fishing in the adjacent pond. The court has five hoops, one conveniently located off to the side so anyone late to the game or waiting to sub in can practice free throws. It's by no means a new surface, but it's also not slanted or warped—if you roll an ankle, you can't blame the cement. Located smack in the middle of a gorgeous nature area, you're likely to also see ducks by the grass behind the court. You can walk off a bad shooting afternoon at nearby Crystal Springs Creek.
Weirdest Court: The Hexagon at Woodlawn Park
(Northeast 13th Avenue and Dekum Street)
The best way to practice your Steph Curry 30-foot bomb is to play H-O-R-S-E at what I like to call "the Hexagon." While the regular court at Woodlawn Park is too uneven for a good run, just off to the side there are six baskets placed at odd angles, some blocked by tree branches, that make for a weird shooting contest. You can't really play a pickup game here, but if you happen to spend the afternoon grabbing a few pints at Breakside Brewery and have a ball on hand, walk over to Woodlawn and bet your next drink seeing who can do the best impression of Damian Lillard's immortal playoff game winner. I like to number each rim one to six, stand in the middle, then launch at random while yelling "Kobe!" so loud everyone in the vicinity turns to watch the ball clank off the front rim.