Keep your eye on The-Ball. That is, keep your eye on the Basketball Alumni Legends League, a new professional basketball league set to launch in the summer of 2013.
The premise of the league is to allow former local college basketball stars the chance to play for their school’s town again. To be eligible for The-Ball, players cannot be under contract with an NBA team.
The-Ball is going to start out as a four-team league in 2013, and expand to eight to 12 teams in 2014. The league can only start to expand if it can get owners for each of the teams.
One of the main goals for The-Ball players is to be scouted by NBA teams, which gives them much incentive to give 100 percent of their effort during this summer league.
Since the league will take place solely during the summer, players will not have to worry about its interference with the professional team they are playing with overseas.
During the league’s two-game showcase events this year on Aug. 4 and 5, The-Ball showed a competitive nature that is sure to keep players and fans interested. Former local stars from Philadelphia went up head to head against the star alumni from the Washington DC area.
After Team Philly took one to the chin on Saturday in a 111 to 93 beating at George Washington University’s Charles E. Smith Athletic Center, they came back with more poise on Sunday at Saint Joseph’s Hagan Arena.
Leading the way for Team Philly were two former Big 5 stars, Pat Carroll and Curtis Sumpter, who decided that The-Ball showcase would be their last professional games.
“It just brings it all together,” Former St Joes star Pat Carroll said after playing his final game at the Hagan Arena. “Just seeing Philly basketball it’s got to be a connection. … Playing with all these guys again, and like Dionte [Former Temple Standout Dionte Christmas] was saying with our rivals [Other players from City 6 Schools], now we can play as Philly basketball.”
When asked why he has decided to retire from professional basketball, Sumpter responded, “My body just won’t hold up. I’m sure tomorrow I won’t be able to get up.”
These two Big 5 alumni would not go out however without experiencing the exciting new rules The-Ball has to offer.
For one, there is now a 4-point line (yes, you read that correctly) extending 25 feet from the center of each basket. This line is more than a foot deeper than the NBA three-point line and gives teams the opportunity to quickly get back in the game.
These long shots also lead to long rebounds, which creates exciting fast-break opportunities.
Dionte Christmas was showing off his 4-point range early in the third quarter, but former Georgetown star Chris Wright brought his team back into the game by knocking down a clutch 4 late in the fourth quarter to tie the game up at 87.
Teams are also only allowed two timeouts per game, which speeds up the game while creating less down time.
The rules also change when there are five minutes or less in the fourth quarter. The shot clock gets reduced from 30 seconds to 20 in order to give the trailing team more of a chance.
Also, it is a major disadvantage for either team to foul at the end. The penalty for a foul is that the opposing team gets one free throw (worth two points) plus the ball.
So not only does fouling not help the trailing team get back in the game, it furthers the deficit even greater.
“For one, guys have to play smart,” Sumpter said of these rules with five minutes to go in the game. “We have to concentrate more because as you see, you can be up 12 and then lose in a matter of a couple possessions.”
Team Philly was up by 11 points with just less than seven minutes to go, but a combination of fouls drawn by Team DC and clutch long distance shooting by former GTown teammates Chris Wright and Jason Clark left Philly quickly down by six with 2:43 on the clock.
“One of the things I have not been a big fan of, as much as I love college basketball, has been when you get late in the game, everything kind of comes to a stop,” The-Ball Founder and CEO Michael Wranovics says while elaborating on his rule changes at the end of games.
“There’s great basketball all game long and then everything comes to a screeching halt. The game becomes a bunch of intentional fouls ... a bunch of whistles and a bunch of free throws. One of the things we’ve done [at The-Ball] is give only one shot every time there is a free throw [for the amount of points that shot is worth] and we are taking out the incentive to commit fouls.”
Wranovics explained that with these rules the game should be even faster paced than regular college basketball. Also, the last few minutes of the game will be played more similarly to the first three quarters, rather than being drawn out.
“If you know that the other team is going to keep the ball … there is no incentive to commit these fouls anymore. We just want end to end action. … The team ahead cannot just run clock, but there is also no room for those intentional fouls.”
With all these new rules to The-Ball, the result is a fast paced game with few stops in the action, which is sure to keep the attention of the fans.
Although Team Philly did go down 102-94 in the end, fans stayed and were engaged throughout the entire game.
And with St. Joes head coach Phil Martelli and NBA players Lavoy Allen and Jameer Nelson in attendance, how is it not possible to get excited about the future of this league.
A lot of hard work has been put into The-Ball by Wranovics to find owners for the different teams, and he truly believes that this league can help out not only in showcasing the players, but bringing college basketball cities together.
As Wranovics explains, The-Ball could be “…a little madness after March.”
Zack Lessner is a Correspondent for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from The-Ball.
Follow me on Twitter @ZLess1995
If you have any questions about the rules or just about The-Ball in general, send me a tweet or write a comment down below.