Last weekend, Red Bull King of the Rock qualifiers were held in Dallas and Houston, bringing out the best street ball players those cities have to offer.
On Friday night in Dallas, Mavericks guard Delonte West kicked off the event by welcoming players to the competition held at the Oak Cliff Family YMCA. What began as a few spectators quickly grew as word spread of the intense 1v1 competition and of surprise competitor Dez Bryant, wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. In the end, 27-year-old Tobias Gipson (TJ), a former player for the University of North Texas, took home the top prize.
"We were just driving by and had to stop to see what was going on out here," said Bryant. "I'm going to compete and have a little fun out here tonight, but based on what I've seen, I don't think I'm going to go far."
"I saw some of the best players not in the NBA out here tonight," West commented. "I saw moves that remind me of Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant. I think whoever comes out of Dallas is going to give those players at Alcatraz a run for their money."
"At Alcatraz I’m just going to go and play ball. I’m ready to win that one too, that’s what I do.”
On Saturday in Houston, Rockets forward Patrick Patterson joined the festivities at Fonde Recreation Center and gave a pep talk to the competitors. Deemed the "People's Champ," Kendrick Cornelus came from behind in nearly all his games, hitting up to seven 3-pointers in a row to advance. Cornelus has faced far greater adversity than he saw on the court in Houston; he is blind in one eye and was once shot five times, living with a few of the bullets still inside.
"My game plan is always just to go out there and win," said Cornelus after his crowning moment. "At Alcatraz I’m just going to go and play ball. I’m ready to win that one too, that’s what I do.”
Both Gipson and Cornelus advance to play ballers from across the globe on Alcatraz Island later this year.