On Saturday afternoon, Red Bull King of the Rock headed to Seattle for the fourth qualifier of the one-on-one basketball tournament that will culminate with a showdown in The Yard of Alcatraz.
Despite a rain delay which eventually caused the games to move indoors, eight players earned a spot as one 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 ever held on the island and will be hosted by basketball superstar Rajon Rondo.
Some of the best one-on-one players in Seattle woke up early, laced up their shoes, put on their game face and headed to the qualifier at Seattle Center. But as the players gathered at the Center Park Courts, so did storm clouds overhead. The weather held long enough to go though one round of exciting play, including two buzzer-beaters that brought the crowd to their feet. But just as the first round ended, the sky opened up and the rain began to fall. Players braved the rain as long as they could, but soon the courts became too wet to continue safe play. After a brief hold to see if it would pass, the games were moved inside to Fisher Plaza, where a hoop was brought in, court lines were laid down with painter’s tape, and play resumed.
Although the venue changed, the intensity did not, and as the rounds progressed, the level of play progressed along with it. The later rounds witnessed several close match-ups where the single elimination format sent very talented players packing. The finals saw 28 year-old Deric Gruen face off against 24 year-old James “Jet” Thorn. The two were evenly matched, but Gruen, who just received his Masters in Public Policy at the University of Washington, was able to prevail and will receive an all expenses paid trip to San Francisco to compete in the final on Alcatraz.
- Deric Gruen (Seattle)
- James Thorn (Tacoma)
- DeShaun Prince (Seattle)
- JuWuan Buchanan (Seattle)
- Mike Giro (Bellevue)
- James Groth (Seattle)
- Jordan Knight (Bonny Lake)
- Mario Howard (Seattle)
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. Sixty-four contestants will emerge from the six qualifiers and make their way to Alcatraz for the final showdown on September 18. Those wanting to reach the hallowed grounds of Alcatraz must earn their spot through one of five qualifier tournaments taking place in Los Angeles (July 17), San Diego (July 24), Phoenix, (July 31), Seattle (August 7), San Francisco (August 28) and Oakland (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. 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.