This past weekend myself and a few of my comrades from Basketball Society were afforded the luxury of covering The Basketball Tournament‘s Northeast Regional at Philadelphia University through our colleagues at Def Pen. The Basketball Tournament or TBT as it has come to be known, is an exciting high stakes brand of Summer Hoops. Founded in 2014 by Jonathan Mugar, the tournament is open to anyone. This year’s grand prize being $2,000,000 to be divided between the players, coaches, general managers and a few fans. The grand prize has grown exponentially each year, with the pot growing from $500K to $1 Million last year, to now this massive $2 Million award. Former College Standouts, NBA mainstays, veterans, as well as a plethora of overseas stars want in. The list of notable names involved this year include beloved NBA Veterans such as Mike Bibby, Jason Williams, Ronald “Flip” Murray and Gary Forbes to name a few. The Morris Twins are managing and coaching a team themselves with help from Thomas Robinson. To make a long story short, what started off as a far fetched idea, The Basketball Tournament has become fully legit. ESPN has partnered with TBT to cover the Semi-Finals and Championship Game.
What impressed me the most about TBT was just how organized it was. Philly U’s arena was packed, the games were exciting as they were drama filled. Seeing many names I watched tear the hardwood up at the collegiate and pro levels up close, during the summer, for some meaningful basketball?? A great experience to say the least. The Northeast Regional featured alumni teams from Syracuse, Villanova, Pittsburgh and La Salle to name a few. Every team was littered with big names and talent, some more lopsided than others of course. Villanova’s 2009 Final Four team showed up to their game with only 5 players; forced to play with 4 after Scottie Reynolds sustained a shoulder injury. A 17 Point halftime lead turned into a 1 point defeat and the end of their $2million dream.
The player who impressed me the most was Team Maryland’s Mike James, an exciting lead guard for Panathanaikos in Greece, by way of Lamar University and Portland, Oregon. The 6’1 James just made the game look effortless as he presumed to rack up buckets in the most nonchalant fashion. Although his Team Maryland (coached by NBA Vet Juan Dixon) would fall to Team Foe (coached by the Morris Twins) in the second round, Mike James left an impression on anyone who watched him drop 22 points in game 1, followed by 35 points in game 2. The Basketball Tournament was just added confirmation that there are some insane talents floating around in the Basketball Universe beyond the NCAA and the NBA. Mike James, who had a stint with the Phoenix Suns in the 2015 Summer League, is definitely a guy I’ll be keeping tabs on going forward. I truly feel that his overseas production could translate to the NBA game. Good friend and Society Favorite Justin Dentmon also showed his flashes of brilliance as he torched Jason Williams and Mike Bibby for 32 points in a first round game that saw his team come short in the Mid-West Regional.
The Basketball Tournament games can be live streamed on Facebook. As the list of notable names grows, the Basketball Tournament will follow suit for years to come. It’s refreshing to those of us who go through hoops withdrawals following the conclusion of the NBA Finals each summer. The Basketball Tournament ensures fans alike the comfort of knowing that “Basketball Never Stops”. Kudos to Jonathan Mugar and his team for gifting the Basketball World with an awesome present of elite hoops for the summer time. All of this of course done for the love of the game and for a good cause as some of the proceeds go to various charities across the country. Job Well Done TBT.