If you have five friends who can play hoops, several hundred others who can support you on social and a little luck of the draw, come August you can be a millionaire in New York. Open tryout for the Knicks or Nets? Not quite.
It is “The Basketball Tournament,” a winner take all five on five event now in its second year, where 96 teams from across to country will play down, under NCAA rules, for a shot at a cool million in prize money. The tournament’s founder, Jon Mugar, announced that the prize money would be seven figures, and that ESPN would be a partner, with the semi-finals and final being held at a college location in New York (last year’s final was held at Boston University, where a packed house saw a team of Notre Dame alumni beat a team that was led by current Los Angeles Clippers forward Dahntay Jones and was organized by former Fordham assistant Ross Burns).
The site has yet to be announced for the finals or any of the regionals in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Philly, but with a host of mid-sized gyms in the area, from LIU and Manhattan to Fordham and Columbia, a solid site should be able to hold a very cool atmosphere for the August 2 final.
Here is how it works; you put together a team and enter for free on the tournament website (anyone over 18 can play but there are eligibility issues for student-athletes and potentially for current NBA players) starting April 1, and have to garner enough social support to be selected for the 96 team field, as well as having talent. Once selected, the opening rounds begin July 10-12 at regional sites in Los Angeles and Atlanta and continue July 17-19 in Chicago and Philadelphia. Play continues on Thursday, July 23, in Chicago with the opening game of the Super 17 and continues the following day on Friday, July 24, from Chicago, with the Round of 16. ESPNU will then carry all four Quarterfinal games on Saturday July 25, marathon coverage, live from Chicago.
Whoever makes it out of Chicago will then travel to New York City for the semifinals on Saturday, August 1, carried live on ESPN. The next day, Sunday, August 2, the two finalists will play in the winner-take-all, $1 Million Championship Game, at 3pm ET on ESPN. Additionally the winning team’s fan group will share 5% ($50,000) of the overall prize.
“On August 2nd, two teams will play a winner take all game of basketball for $1 million on national television for the first time, and the door is wide open for anyone out there to create a team and play for it,” said Mugar, in a release. “Last year we were able to prove the concept of a high stakes, democratic tournament, with an exceptionally skilled collection of players and an entertaining event. Our agreement with ESPN, along with our market expansion, further validates that we are on the track to grow even beyond what we had hoped for in year two.”
The Notre Dame Fighting Alumni, made up of all BIG EAST players, will be back to defend their title in 2015 but who knows who could enter from New York. Maybe Stephon Marbury can pull together a team from China, or Langston Galloway can rally some free agent Knicks from this past year? Regardless with seven figures on the line the field should be intriguing, as the best of the best in what was last year called basketball’s version of “The Hunger Games” comes to New York for the first time.