With the NBA having crowned a champion* and the Hornets draft resulting in a somewhat stultifying trade for a veteran, we’re entering a bit of a basketball dead zone here in the Charlotte sports calendar. Sure there’s Hornets summer-league basketball to follow but that’s like a less-effective basketball methadone.
So what’s a Charlotte basketball fan to do during these sports doldrums?
Enter The Basketball Tournament, a high-stakes winner-take-all single-elimination basketball tournament. It’s kind of like the Kumite in Bloodsport except with basketball. And throwing salt in opponents’ eyes is definitely illegal.
This is the third year of The Basketball Tournament, which includes an open-application format, a social media component where fans can get a piece of the prize money, and remarkably high purse ($2 million, all to the winning team). Looking to win that prize money are 64 teams selected from over 350 team entries. This year for the first time, Charlotte is one of four cities that will host the regional rounds of the tournament, with games at the Grady Cole Center on July 9 and 10.
The tournament field is already set and it’s unfortunately too late for you and your crew of flunkies to throw together a rag-tag team and try to play the fan-favorite Cinderella that takes home the whole thing for this year.
But take solace in the fact that you wouldn’t win anyway because these teams are stacked. Last year’s tournament included Mike Bibby and Jason Williams, both legit NBA players. In addition to a few former NBA stars, the teams are comprised of former NCAA stars who are playing overseas, and many of the teams carry a loose affiliation with multiple alumni from the same school on the team.
Charlotte’s South Regional will feature the 2015 champion of the tournament, Overseas Elite, as well as a team made up of the core players from the Cinderella VCU team that made the NCAA Final Four in 2011. In an interesting wrinkle, this team features former Milwaukee Bucks first-round draft pick Larry Sanders who is using the tournament to ready himself for an NBA comeback. The field also features a team of hometown favorite Davidson alums that should be able to rely on some serious fan support and make some noise.
And if you followed college basketball closely a few years ago, you’ll be excited to know that universally loved fan-favorite Marshall Henderson from Ole Miss is on a team in the Charlotte regional as well.
If you can’t attend the games at the Grady Cole Center to rub shoulders with the players, you’ll be able to watch the Regional round in Charlotte online and the games of the quarterfinals and beyond will air on ESPN, so this thing is no joke.
But don’t stay on your couch and watch the games. It’s summertime and it’s amazing that this tournament is in our backyard. Take the streetcar to the stop at CPCC and walk over to the Grady Cole Center to take in some elite hoops and cure that basketball jones of yours.
Who: You and 16 teams chock-full of highly motivated basketball talent
What: The Basketball Tournament, a $2 million winner-take-all summertime basketball tournament
When: July 9 and 10 (you can purchase tickets in advance)
Where: the Beautiful Elizabeth Neighborhood at the Grady Cole Center, 310 N Kings Drive, Charlotte, NC 28204
Why: Great basketball players you recognize playing as hard as possible for $2 million? What’s not to love?