The Ball Up Tour Hoping To Bring Back Streetball’s Glory Days

You have to hand it to Ball Up CEO Demetrius Spencer. He has a vision and knows how to put on a show. Ball Up made their sixth stop of their 10-city tour in Boston last week and although The Professor was a DNP because of plantar fasciitis and The Bone Collector got injured in the first quarter, Team Ball Up soundly defeated their Boston opponents, 105-87, with an array of high-flying dunks, ballhandling exploits that confused their opponents and precision shooting.

The Boston team was coached by Celtics forward, Brandon Bass, who didn’t think he would get any coaching praise from Doc Rivers. He laughingly said after the game, “(Doc) would say I did a terrible job.” Bass was active on the bench the whole night, motivating and encouraging his team even though they faced a big deficit early on. Having watched some of the Ball Up players from their AND1 days, Bass was eager to see their skills in person and reminisced on how he became such a physical player because he grew up playing streetball in a tough neighborhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“I definitely grew up playing streetball,” he said. “That’s the reason for my physicality and me being able to play through fouls.”

Having NBA players be involved with Ball Up is part of Spencer’s plan for the future of the organization. Spencer is modeling Ball Up after UFC and hopes to establish a summer professional streetball league in a couple of years that would have NBA players like Bass, Tyreke Evans, Derek Fisher, Sebastian Telfair, and Baron Davis playing the role of the front office brass. The teams would be owned by different corporations and companies, but a NBA player would be in charge of their team and the Ball Up team will be split up so each player becomes a captain of a team. His cousin, former NBA player Tracy Murray, is currently the coach of the Ball Up team and is helping with the growth of the organization.

“Streetball and our organization is something that NBA players love being a part of,” Spencer said. “We are setting up a way for them to showcase streetball at a different level. We have a great TV partner with Fox Sports National and these guys want to run and control their own organization. A lot of players like to say they can do better than their front office so now they have a chance to do that. It wasn’t hard to get them on board since a lot of those guys are friends with our guys. Streetball is really the grass roots of basketball and they want to be a part of it.”

Ball Up is currently in their second season of existence but this is their first season of touring. Last year, they stayed in Spencer’s backyard of Los Angeles but are now traveling the country looking for the next Ball Up member. At each tour stop, an open run is held which forms that city’s team. Two of those players are selected as MVPs of the game and move on to the Ball Up combine, which will be held in Atlanta. The best players from the combine will then face the Ball Up team in a championship game in Las Vegas at the end of July. The MVP from the championship game will earn a contract and become the newest member of Ball Up.

“We actually provide an opportunity for ballplayers around the U.S. who play in their local parks, who are really talented, the opportunity to become a professional ballplayer,” says Spencer.

Although the tour is coming to an end, you can catch all of the action on Fox Sports (it started this weekend) and look for Ball Up to become a force in the summer basketball scene in the coming years.

Will streetball ever get back to where it was with And1?

Follow Ananth on Twitter at @Ananth_Pandian.

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