The Basketball Tournament will host one of its regionals in New York City's Rucker Park. This is the first time that the annual event will be held outdoors.
TBT announced Thursday, that Rucker Park would host games between July 16-20. The winner will then move on to the quarterfinals of the University of Dayton's July 29-30.
Jon Mugar, TBT founder and CEO, said that Rucker Park had always been a dream for him. TBT is an open tournament format and we want it be a celebration for all things basketball. The pros gather from college and the YMCA. Rucker Park is, for me, the pinnacle in a basketball melting pot. Kevin DurantAllen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson play there against guys they've never heard about before. TBT is openness at its best.
Mugar explained that the idea came up after last year's event when organizers were trying to find unique venues for games. They had never played outside before. However, they did get close to playing outdoors during 2020's bubble atmosphere. At that time, the idea of creating a court in Ohio Stadium was being heavily considered. Rucker Park seemed like a great location.
Rucker Park has been a dream of mine since childhood. The TBT tournament is an open format and we want it be a celebration for all things basketball. Pros, college students, and YMCA members all come together. Rucker Park is, for me, the epicenter of a basketball melting pot. There are many great players there, including Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson, who play against men you have never met before. This is the essence of TBT.
Jon Mugar, founder and CEO of TBT
The organizers reached out to the National Basketball Players Association to gauge interest. This association had partnered up with NYC Parks in renovating Greg Marius Court at Rucker Park.
“We are thrilled for this partnership, and to support The Basketball Tournament that will be held at the Greg Marius Court at Holcombe Rucker Park,” NBPA President and New Orleans PelicansGuard CJ McCollumStatement. “This tournament celebrates and promotes basketball in a truly original fashion. This is a natural collaboration between the NBPA, our players and the NBPA.”
Mugar, the TBT, and the NBPA were also on board. Mugar received buy-in by NYC Parks, the Office of New York City Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Parks. There are two groups that use the park: Entertainers 155 Rucker Park, and the National Association of Each One Teach One Inc. The Doe Fund landed Chick-Fil-A Tri State to be the presenting partner.
Mugar stated that the “great development” was a positive one for him and ESPN. It's a great chance for us, because we're now in Year 9. Without eight years of history, the opportunity wouldn't be possible. It was a tremendous undertaking to reach this point. It was possible because of the partnership with the NBPA and the mayor's office. The parks department also played a major role. Organizations that play in Rucker Park were also involved. Without history, we wouldn't be where we are today.”
Mugar stated that Jay Z and Fat Joe would be his dream team to enter the Rucker Regional. This is a nod to the 2003 game, which never took place. Before the blackout, Rucker Park was canceled because of star-studded teams assembled by New York rappers.
Mugar stated, “If these two enter a group, we will match them up at Round 1.”
TBT was established in 2014 when Notre Dame Fighting Alumni won their first championship. Overseas Elite won their next four titles, before Carmen's Crew (an Ohio State alumni) ended their streak. Marquette-focused Golden Eagles Alumni won the title in 2020, while Syracuse-focused Boeheim’s Army took the title last year.
Other regionals held this summer include Charleston, University of Dayton (University of New Mexico), Omaha, Syracuse, Wichita State University, Xavier University, and Omaha.
In a winner take all title game, televised on ESPN, the champion team takes home $1 million. This summer's championship match will be held at Dayton, Aug. 2.
When Mugar was asked if the Rucker Park venture would open up more outdoor opportunities in the future, and if the TBT had any surprises for this summer’s event, Mugar was coy.
He stated, “Everything is possible with TBT.”