June 6, 2023
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I’m Giddy Just Thinking About “The Basketball Tournament”

So this is incredibly cool.

On Friday, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported the details of a forthcoming national basketball tournament open to all United States residents over the age of 18 and not an active NBA or NCAA player.  Aptly named “The Basketball Tournament,” the first annual event – set to kick-off June 6 – will welcome 32 teams to Philadelphia University to compete in a five-on-five, single elimination bracketed competition for a grand prize of $500,000.

Groups will apply to compete in The Basketball Tournament by forming a team of seven to 10 players and then soliciting online fans, who officially register on the tournament’s website.  The top 24 teams with the most fans recruited receive automatic bids to the event and the tournament organizers will select the other eight teams, given a minimum of 100 fans (giving organizers the power to choose eight teams ensures that some of the most marketable or “high-profile” teams make the event, even if they aren’t among the top 24 in support).

Again, no current NBA or NCAA teams are eligible to compete, so the event will essentially be 32 amateur teams competing for a half million dollars.  And the possibilities are exciting.

The odds are the tournament won’t look anything like the pick-up games at your local games.  The competition will likely comprise teams made up of former Division-I college players, fringe semi-professional players and former NBA players.

As Lowe reports, a couple former college crews have talked about reuniting, including the 2006 George Mason University team that made the Final Four.  Furthermore, our local Cornel University’s 2010 team that made the Sweet Sixteen has already registered their team on the event website.

What’s even more exciting is the possibility of former NBA teams reuniting.  As a basketball fan, I can’t even imagine how fun it would be to watch the reappearance of the best ‘90s NBA teams in all their middle-aged glory.  Is it overly optimistic to hope for a rematch between the great ‘80s Lakers and Celtics?  Or the ‘90s Bulls and Piston?  Is there any possibility that Michael Jordan doesn’t want anything else than to show the world he can still demoralize opponents on the court (instead of continuing to demoralize Charlotte Bobcats fans from the owner’s box)?

And what about the top national streetball teams?  Any chance the TNT telecast crew could field a team of Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Reggie Miller and Chris Webber?  How would former NBA players in their 40s and 50s fare against a recomposed college team, like that 2010 Cornell squad?  The possible team combinations and match-ups are enough to make any basketball fan drool.

Unfortunately, The Tournament won’t be televised live this first year, which lessens the chance we’ll see reunions of legendary NBA teams – at least not this June.  But if the first inaugural event is a success this year, the probability of a streaming, broadcast or on-demand deal in the second, third and proceeding years is high.

Either way, the possibilities of The Basketball Tournament present fans with a lot to look forward to.  I’d encourage everyone to sign up and help select the field.  Even better, form a team, and with some innovation campaigning and fan recruitment, maybe come June 6 you’ll find yourself on the court in Philly against Jordan and Pippen.