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NBA PM: “The Basketball Tournament” Is Here

There’s a new single-elimination tournament that pits former NBA players against each other for a $500,000 prize … Paul George diagnosed with a concussion

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“The Basketball Tournament” Is Here

In two and a half weeks, “The Basketball Tournament” will get underway. This is a brand new, single-elimination tournament that will feature 32 teams competing for a $500,000 prize at Philadelphia University. Any team can enter, and the tournament has attracted a number of former NBA and NCAA players.

Some of the notable players competing in The Basketball Tournament this June include Josh Selby, Dahntay Jones, Hakim Warrick, Sean Singletary, Rashad McCants, Smush Parker, Josh Boone, Quincy Douby, Shavlik Randolph, Andre Barrett, Chris Wright, Tony Gaffney, Austin Freeman, Ryan Wittman, Aquille Carr, Marshall Henderson, Edgar Sosa and Lenzelle Smith Jr.

Scottie Reynolds, Dante Cunningham and the 2009 Villanova Final Four team will reunite for The Basketball Tournament. The 2010 Cornell Sweet 16 team will also be participating, along with teams from Wisconsin, Temple, Princeton, Maryland and Notre Dame.

There is no entry fee for teams, as the prize money is privately invested by a group in Boston. The squads must decide how the $500,000 prize will be split among the players prior to the start of the tournament. Over 150 teams applied for the tournament, but only 32 made it. Twenty-four teams were voted in by fans on the tournament’s website, and eight additional teams were selected by the organizers.

As of right now, the frontrunner to win the tournament appears to be “Team Barstool” since they have five former NBA players (Jones, Douby, Boone, Randolph and Barrett) as well as former NCAA players Matt Walsh (Florida) and Justin Burrell (St. John’s).

This is a unique idea, since it puts a ton of money on the table and is open to anyone who wants to play or assemble a team. The $500,000 prize is what separates this from other tournaments.

“Guys love to play basketball, and what brings it up another notch is when money is on the line,” Hakim Warrick said. “Yeah, you’ve got bragging rights, but when you throw money out there too it’s just more incentive. That definitely will bring the games to another level. You don’t have to worry about someone not giving their all, since there is money on the line.”

“It’s an opportunity to play and I like to compete in general, so I thought it’d be a cool spot for me to play a couple of games and have some fun,” Dahntay Jones said. “It’s an opportunity to compete, stay sharp and have some fun. The competition level is better than most recreational basketball; the teams that have been slotted have guys that will be able to compete and play some good games.”

The tournament’s founder, Jon Mugar, is hoping to make this an annual tournament and he wants to increase the prize money each year.

“I certainly want this to be an annual event, and I want this to be the smallest amount that we ever pay the winning the team,” Mugar said. “We want to keep growing it, getting more players involved and having higher-stakes games. We want to be able to pay more teams even more money [in the future].

“The original concept was to take March Madness and throw the doors open to any team that wanted to play, and put an exorbitant amount of money out there for the teams to play for. We wanted a completely open format, which I hadn’t really seen before aside from maybe the FA Cup in soccer but I think this is even more open than that. Anybody can play or form a team. In addition to being a player, you can play the role of GM and create your own team. We also wanted a really high-stakes format that puts an emphasis on team basketball and winning. With the single-elimination format and bouncing teams after their first loss, it’s really high stakes.”

“I think it’ll be successful this year, and I think they’ll be able to snowball it and keep doing it every year,” Jones said.

Warrick decided to join the tournament after hearing about it from friends. He’ll be playing on a team assembled by former Temple player Mark Tyndale, and he’s looking forward to participating.

“I just knew it was going to be really good competition,” Warrick said. “There aren’t too many chances to play organized basketball against really good competition, but this is one of them. You’ve got a lot of guys who are going to give it their all. It’s a good opportunity for me to go out there and get some good run.”

Warrick spent last season playing in China, but he’s hoping to return to the NBA this summer. While some players just entered for a shot at the money, Warrick believes playing in this tournament against top competition can help him as he tries to make an NBA comeback. He last played in the league during the 2012-13 season, when he appeared in 27 games with the Charlotte Hornets.

“I definitely think this will help me, since I can get a good run in and play some competitive organized basketball,” Warrick said. “No matter how much you work out and do drills, there’s nothing that can get your prepared like playing real five-on-five games against good competition, especially when guys are playing their hardest. It’s good to play against those guys. I definitely think it’s going to be a really good tournament.

“I can bring experience to an NBA team and I feel that I still have my athleticism. I’ve continued to improve my game and I’ve always been a guy who can come off the bench to score and rebound. I feel like I can still do that for two, three, four, five more years. I had some opportunities [last year], but not good enough opportunities, so I decided to go over to China and play over there. Being able to play a lot of minutes and be the focal point, it was kind of fun. But I definitely still feel like I can play [in the NBA] and I feel like I’ll get back in this summer.”

Warrick has been practicing on his own, going through individual workouts, but he and his Basketball Tournament teammates plan to meet up in about a week and start practicing as a group.

“In about a week, we’ll start working out together, talking, trying to figure out some plays and getting everybody on the same page,” Warrick said. “We need to talk about the lingo that we’re going to use, and make sure everyone is comfortable.”

The championship game will be streamed online on June 28, and tickets to all of the games will go on sale tomorrow, May 22, at noon on TheTournament.com. All of the first-round matchups, which kick off on June 6, will also be announced tomorrow on the website.

Mugar was pleasantly surprised that the tournament was able to draw recent NBA players in year one. He was hopeful that it would take off right away, but this has admittedly blown up quicker than expected.

“When you first launch a concept like this, you really have no idea what to expect,” Mugar said. “We started on March 1 and we knew who we wanted in the tournament – teams like the Cornell 2010 team – but to see those teams apply early on was pretty exhilarating. It definitely validates the concept of the open tournament. As the process progressed, you saw more and more high-profile players and recent NBA players get involved, and that certainly exceeded our expectations for the first year.”

This is an intriguing idea, and it could be the first of many TBT events.

Paul George Injury Update

Last night, Indiana Pacers forward Paul George took a knee to the back of his head during a fourth-quarter collision with Miami HEAT guard Dwyane Wade in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. After the game, George said he blacked out when he and Wade collided, and he admitted that his vision was blurry for the remainder of the game.

According to a Pacers press release, George “has been diagnosed by the team’s consulting neurologist with a concussion, based on his post-game reporting that he had briefly lost consciousness during the game.” He will begin the NBA-mandated protocol for return-to-participation after a diagnosed concussion.

Initially, George didn’t exhibit symptoms of a concussion and, in response to questions from the Pacers’ medical staff, he denied dizziness, nausea and issues with his vision.  He was also active and aware of his surroundings.  As a result, the Indiana medical staff did not suspect a concussion.

However, his comments after the game led to further testing and he will now have to go through the NBA’s concussion protocol in order to play in Game 3.

Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, Director of the NBA Concussion Program, has been in contact with the Pacers’ medical staff since the incident occurred.

“The Indiana Pacers medical team followed the NBA concussion protocol and there was no indication of concussion during the game,” Kutcher said. “This case illustrates that concussion evaluation is an ongoing process and manifestations of the injury may not always present immediately.”

George’s status is up in the air for Game 3. Fortunately for the Pacers, the next game is not until Saturday, giving George several days to rest and try to get through the NBA-mandated concussion protocol.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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