Last year, in Red Bull‘s first season of unleashing its King of the Rock one-on-one tournament onto the hoop world, ballers battled it out in six West Coast qualifying rounds to earn a spot playing at Alcatraz Island. This time around â€“ along with Dime, Skullcandy and 24 Hour Fitness – they’ve upped the ante to 21 qualifying rounds around the nation, with even more going down overseas. And to kick off the race to 10 G’s and bragging rights at Alcatraz on September 24th, Los Angeles’ finest congregated to rock the courts in Venice Beach this past Saturday.
Starting at just shy of 7 a.m. Saturday morning, dudes were already gathering at the famed Venice courts to vie for a chance to get into the 64-man tournament. They came ready to battle and hungry to show how their skills would matchup. These cats sacrificed Friday nights out, weekend morning slumbers and, in my personal absent-minded case, previously un-sunburned skin just to hopefully end up in one of the final two spots. When the event did finally get rolling at noon, the park was engulfed with players from all over the SoCal area â€“ with one guy even trekking down all the way from Oakland. And sure, there were a few oddballs mixed into the group (I’m fairly confident the real Billy Hoyle was actually in attendance), but the field did uphold its fair share of legit talent and unique stories. In the end, it was a 5-10, trash-talking L.A. native that sifted through the fray to come out on top.
In one of the more entertaining one-on-one matchups that I’ve witnessed in my tenure, guard Mark Peters took on 6-6 Sheldon Bailey – who beyond being a beast in the low post, also does work as LeBron James‘ commercial body double â€“ and not only came out of the game with all of his limbs still intact, he actually showed up the big fella. Peters was able to out-shake Bailey 11-to-8, and even though he took the L.A. crown, both guys will still represent the city in September’s final showdown up north in the S.F. Bay.
Big ups to everyone who competed in King of the Rock this weekend, and if you want to jump in and ball as the tour continues, check out the upcoming schedule HERE.