The Ones Basketball League (OBL) should be renamed the Opportunity Basketball League, because that is exactly what the competition, created by Basketball Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady, has been doing for the best one-on-one players around.
Over this past weekend, the OBL crowned Isaiah Brown of Queens as its fourth Regional Champion at Major R. Owens Community Center in Brooklyn, defeating a total of 28 top area and national-level basketball players.
McGrady could not have been happier and more pleased with the type of player intensity and crowd turnout for the basketball competition in the greatest borough in the world.
“New York came to play this weekend, for sure,” said McGrady, a 15-year NBA veteran and Hall of famer. “We had our biggest and loudest crowd so far in Brooklyn, and the level of play continues to be high as we get closer to the OBL Finals in Las Vegas.”
Brown, 25, played at Division III SUNY Potsdam (N.Y.). The sharpshooting lefty Brown, seeded at No. 2 after a perfect 7-0 qualifying round on Saturday, took out Zach Radz (Troy, N.Y.), 9-5, in the final game to claim the winner-take-all prize of a glorious $10,000.
“My whole family came out to see me play. I can’t describe the feeling,” Brown said. “One-on-one basketball, for us, this is our style of basketball. I didn’t have a specific strategy going in, but the shots were there so I took them and fortunately hit them.”
Radz and Darien Davis (Coram, N.Y.), both of whom captured the second and third place spots, respectively, played well in a weekend filled with close contests and spirited competition across the board.
Davis, from Dowling College (Long Island), upended Joe Nickerson, also by a 9-5 count, to finish in the top three. All three now advance to the OBL Finals in Las Vegas this summer (dates and location TBA).
Radz, who came down from the Albany, N.Y., made a strong run from the eight seeded position, needing to defeat the No. 9 seed Josh Treadwell (Newark, N.J.) in the “out bracket” game before two other victories propelled him into the Finals, including a two-pointer with time running down for a 9-8 upset win over previously unbeaten top seed Eugene Lawrence (Brooklyn).
“The last eight people down here, I knew they were tough competitors, obviously, anybody that makes it to this point,” said Radz, 25, who played at Sacred Heart University. “It was a matter of just putting it all out there and playing with all your heart.”
After a successful debut event in Houston (April 30-May 1) and follow-ups in Atlanta (May 7-8), Chicago (May 21-22) and New York City, OBL’s next regional event is Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5, in the DMV (The St. James, Springfield, VA). The regular season concludes in Los Angeles (site TBD).
The winner of each regional tournament will take home a $10,000 cash prize along with an invitation to the OBL Finals, which will see 18 players (the top three from each region) compete for a chance to win a $250,000 grand prize and be crowned “Ruler of the Court.”
— Jerry Del Priore