Public basketball courts are a mixed bag. Some are so filthy that if you simply dribble around for 10 minutes, your hands turn black with dirt and grime. And don't fall, because that hand you put down to save yourself might land on a used condom, or needle, or maybe some broken glass. That's why when a new court opens, it appears as an oasis in the desert of dilapidated and poorly managed ones.
Normandy Isle Park is such a refuge: The green asphalt is smooth and free of cracks, nets hang from the rims, the courts are well lit, and water fountains function. A lot of things can ruin a public basketball court: a dominant crew monopolizing court time and intimidating newbies, an atmosphere that promotes bickering over every call, interminable waits to get in on a game. Nothing is worse than showing up for some pick-up hoops and finding a bunch of meatheads posturing and running their mouths more than the court. Normandy Isle, perhaps because it hasn't been around long enough — it was christened last year — is free from all of those things. Best of all, if you're playing during one of those sweltering Miami days, just hop in the park's pool when the games end.