Carmelo Anthony, arguably the most famous Baltimore-born basketball player on Earth, is bringing a cash-prize basketball competition back home.
ESPN announced yesterday that Melo will host the semifinals and finals of the 5-on-5 tournament, called The Basketball Tournament, at Coppin State University in August. The event will bring a national spotlight to Baltimore, with ESPN broadcasting all of the games. The semifinals and finals are scheduled for Aug. 1-3.
In a statement from the network, the 10-time all-star forward from the New York Knicks spoke highly of his native city.
“Baltimore will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m excited to bring a tournament like this to this city,” he said. “Basketball and Baltimore go hand in hand. The perfect match. A city that is all about determination. A city that helped build me.”
Melo moved with his family from Brooklyn to Baltimore when he was eight years old and spent his formative years living on Myrtle Avenue in West Baltimore. His journey of escaping street life and achieving NBA stardom has been well-chronicled over the years, including in a September 2016 profile of his role in the Rio Olympics by Bleacher Report.
As for the competition he’s hosting here, The Basketball Tournament is a three-year-old endeavor that puts amateur, college and professional basketball players on the same court to face off in a winner-take-all cash prize tournament. This year’s top team gets $2 million. Tournament organizers doubled the winnings last year after offering up $1 million during the first two years in 2014 and 2015.
The competition lets in 64 teams through an online application process that opens tomorrow. While any group of adults has a chance, the teams are picked based on who gets the most votes from fans and supporters via social media. Once awarded a spot, teams face off in five-on-five, single-elimination games to advance to the next round, similar to March Madness.
While amateurs get as much of a chance as anyone to win from the start, the competition is stiff. Sixty-three of the players in last year’s competition were NBAers, and 20 of the teams were made up of Division I college basketball players, according to ESPN. In the end, a team called Overseas Elite comprising mostly American players from professional international teams took home the $2 million prize.
The application process runs from April 1 through June 1. Opening rounds begin in four cities starting July 8. Click here if you want to compete for a chance to play in the finals right here in Baltimore.
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