For the first time ever, amidst the crumbling walls and the eerily-lit cell house, a national television audience will see basketball played on “The Rock” of Alcatraz Island, one of the most notorious locations on earth. Airing Saturday, May 19 at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT on CBS, 64 players from around the world make their way to Red Bull King of the Rock.
The one-on-one tournament was first played on Alcatraz in 2010 and now makes its television debut on CBS. The only official sporting event ever held on the island, Red Bull King of the Rock marks the first time basketball has come to this slab of hard concrete since the inmates left the island more than 50 years ago.
“We’re looking for the best of the best on Alcatraz,” said All-Star guard Rajon Rondo. “This is one-on-one ball at its finest with every player working hard to take the crown.”
The tournament includes players from 13 countries: United States, Canada, Spain, Germany, France, Lithuania, Slovenia, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, Israel and Hong Kong. Former college players, international pros and street ball legends comprise the cast of 64, including Hugh “Baby Shaq” Jones from Washington D.C., a former member of the AND 1 Mixtape Tour. Others include returning champion Izeah “Clutch” Bowman from Inglewood, California, runner-up Gary Smith from Phoenix, Arizona, and Lance Perique from New Orleans, Louisiana.
One-on-one basketball can be difficult enough -- no one to pass to, no one to help -- but coupling it with the desolation of Alcatraz makes for one of the most solitary forms of the game imaginable. The 64 players will rely on endurance and composure as they battle through fierce competition, cold temperatures and the worn concrete courts. With four courts in simultaneous game play, the action will be intense and non-stop. Each player on “The Rock” worked hard to earn a spot through regional qualifiers around the world.
The one-of-a-kind competition kicks off with an inspiring spoken-word performance by Tony Award winning poet, artist and actor Lemon Andersen. Well-known dunk artist Kenny “The Innovator” Dobbs will also host a dunk competition at the halfway point of the tournament.
The finals on Alcatraz follow a straightforward concept where players go head-to-head in raw outdoor basketball, using a single-elimination tournament bracket. There are only two options: win and continue, or lose and go home. Games last five minutes and are subject to regulation hoops rules and scoring (two and three pointers). Players have to be tough to make it to “The Rock,” but also have to play smart -- five fouls equals an automatic loss. After each game, the loser walks and the winner takes on his next opponent.
The global one-on-one basketball tournament will return in 2012 with the most competitive field to date, expanding to qualifiers in 27 countries, including 33 in the United States. From these qualifiers, 64 finalists will head to “The Yard” on September 22. Players interested in competing should visit the Red Bull King of the Rock site for more information.
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