This weekend Red Bull King of the Rock made its way to San Francisco for the first of two Bay area qualifiers. The first took place at the Panhandle Park Courts in San Francisco proper on Saturday, and will be followed in two weeks by the Oakland qualifier on September 11th.
Sixteen players will advance from each of the two qualifiers to make up one half of the 64 finalists that will battle it out to be crowned King of the Rock on September 18. The finals on Alcatraz will be the first official sporting ever held on the island and will be hosted by basketball superstar Rajon Rondo.
Word of the San Francisco qualifier spread quickly throughout the city, and players lined up early to secure themselves a spot in the competition. In typical San Francisco fashion, the weather was unpredictable - the day started with chilly weather and gusty wind, but progressed to become warm and sunny. It was evident from the very beginning that there would be a very high intensity level coming from the players, as some had driven from as far as Los Angeles to try and earn one of the coveted spots on The Rock. Players and passersbys crowded the courts to get a good look and shout out their opinions on the games.
One crowd favorite was Gary “Child” Edward Walker, a 55 Year-old from Roseville, nicknamed “Old School” by the crowd for both his age and Larry Bird-esque style of play. In match-up after match-up, Walker wowed the crowd with his unlikely skills and come-from-behind victories. On securing a spot to play on The Rock, Walker commented, “I just entered the competition to see if this old guy still had some game. I guess I still do.”
Many of the match ups were won by those that simply wanted it more and put forth the extra effort. Two such hustlers, Aaron Weissman and Nathan Schuett, advanced all the way to the final two spots. The two went head to head in a highly energetic face-off so evenly matched that it went to triple overtime. But in the finals seconds, Weissman drained a three-pointer to claim the victory and the top spot. Weissman, who works in marketing when not on the court, admitted “Hitting that three pointer in front of that crowd of people was one of the most amazing moments in my life. I’ve imagined that scenario 1,000 times as a kid. It was really amazing to live it for real.”
In all, 16 players from the San Francisco event will advance to play on Alcatraz on September 18th.
San Francisco Finalists:
- Aaron Weissman (San Francisco, CA)
- Nathan Schuett (San Francisco, CA)
- Sam Newman (Winters, CA)
- Lawrence Coburn (San Francisco, CA)
- Wayne Oliver (Sacramento, CA)
- Robbie Allen (San Francisco, CA)
- Will Carrico (San Francisco, CA)
- Ricky Irizarry (San Francisco, CA)
- Sean Rougeau (Fair Oaks, CA)
- Nathan Skon (San Francisco, CA)
- Sante Gayle (Stockton, CA)
- Rob Cuenca (San Francisco, CA)
- Gary Walker (Roseville, CA)
- Kenny Evans (Oakland, CA)
- Sammy Allen (Alameda, CA)
- Adrian Medina (Modesto, CA)
The San Francisco stop was the fifth of six qualifiers. Other qualifiers have included: Los Angeles (July 17), San Diego (July 24), Phoenix, (July 31) and Seattle (August 7). The last chance to qualify for the finals will be at Mosswood Park in Oakland on September 11. Sixty-four finalists will emerge from these six qualifiers and meet at one of the world’s most iconic locations for the final battle.
The finals will be the first official sporting event ever held on Alcatraz, and the first time basketball has been played there since the inmates left the island over 50 years ago. In the end, there can be only one King, so out of the 64 finalists, only one will be crowned “King of the Rock.” Red Bull King of the Rock is open to all ages, amateur and pro alike. Registration will take place on-site for each of the six qualifiers and will take the form of a 64-person bracket competition. Players interested in competing should visit www.redbullusa.com/kingoftherock for more information.
Red Bull will be teaming up with 2K Sports, Converse, SLAM and 24 Hour Fitness for this historic event.