The Basketball Tournament 2015: Winner, Reaction to $1M Prize Money Championship

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2015

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Myck Kabongo #3 of the Toronto Raptors handles the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers on July 18, 2014 at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
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It's the type of event typically only seen in sports movies. A bunch of athletes with nothing to lose and everything to gain, all playing for a winner-take-all $1 million prize. You lose, you get nothing. You win, you reap the financial reward and perhaps a chance to rejuvenate your career.

On Sunday, Overseas Elite gave itself that opportunity.      

Former St. John's star D.J. Kennedy scored 24 points, and Errick McCollum II added 15 as Overseas Elite defeated Team 23, 67-65, to win the 2015 Basketball Tournament.

SportsCenter provided a photo of the team with the check:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Not a typo: Overseas Elite takes home $1,000,000 for winning #thetournament. Prize for 2nd place? Zero. http://t.co/HBjR8GSM71

In tune with how the entire event played out, Overseas Elite's victory came down to the final seconds. Ahead by four at one juncture, Kennedy missed one of two free throws at two different points down the stretch to give Team 23 a chance to win. However, Zach Andrews did not get his game-tying jumper off in time, and the team filled with former collegiate stars rushed to center court in celebration. 

TBT @thetournament

Bench reaction #thetournament http://t.co/c1KzIso5Ia

Founded just last year, The Basketball Tournament has garnered quite the following. Prize money already doubled from the inaugural $500,000, a move that coincided with a more than doubling field of teams. Team 23 and Overseas Elite each had to run through six games before making it to Sunday's championship, something that added a bit of a pride factor to the overall prize. 

Overseas Elite guard Travis Bader, who owns the all-time NCAA lead in threes made, told Desmond Conner of the Hartford Courant that players try not to chase the money:

You have to stay focused; you can't think of the money. That makes people nervous. You'll get to the free-throw line and start missing free throws and things like that, and you get tight. You have to take it as another game. It's a game on ESPN, another opportunity for guys to get exposure, another opportunity to have some fun, and if we win some money out of it, cool.

Sunday's final was a perfect example of how competitive the tournament's environment was.

As Overseas Elite was beginning to wind down the final seconds, the two sides nearly came to blows at center court when Myck Kabongo threw an elbow into the face of Team 23's Andrew Kelly. Officials conferred with the video evidence and decided to avoid giving Kabongo a technical foul—a move that could have shifted the game's outcome.

Overseas Elite maintained a consistent lead through most of the game, but it was never able to put the game away entirely. Team 23 chipped away, staying within striking distance at all times while getting quite a few solid individual contributions.

Davin White, who threw Team 23 on his back for nearly the entire tournament, finished with a game-high 34 points. Consistently hot from long range throughout, White kept it going in the championship to cap off a breakout few weeks. BBallBreakdown's Twitter feed highlighted a, erm, breakdown in Team 23's strategy, as it didn't get him the ball for the final shot:

BBALLBREAKDOWN @bballbreakdown

Where was Davin White? How could they not have gotten him the ball??.??

White, 33, is among the many Basketball Tournament performers getting perhaps their biggest shot at the limelight. A former Cal State Northridge star who went undrafted in 2005, White has carved out a decadelong overseas career that's seen him bounce all over the world. Given his age, it's unlikely any NBA team would be willing to give him a shot—this may be the last time he gets to play on the nationally televised stage.

Still, White found a fan in Haralabos Voulgaris:

Even if it doesn't result in an NBA opportunity, this has been a coming-out party for White. He led a team seeded 13th in its own bracket to the overall championship game of an event that featured former NBA players and a number of top overseas guys.

"What makes it so special…is TBT (as a whole). You guys make us feel special, we feel safe here, it's just that sense of energy," White said, per Zachary Holden of the DePaulia. "There's a positive energy when we come here and play."

The same can be said for many of the Overseas Elite. Kennedy hasn't had an NBA shot since a brief cup of coffee with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2012. Kabongo, a 23-year-old former McDonald's All-American, has been toiling in the D-League for two years. Point guard Paris Horne, another St. John's alum, hasn't touched an NBA floor as he approaches his 28th birthday.

Even if Team 23 went home empty-handed from a cash perspective, none of the players in the championship are lacking for exposure. We'll have to see if anyone gets a legitimate chance of living out his NBA dream.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter. 


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