The basketball tournament will play one of its eight regionals at historic Rucker Park in New York City, the first time the annual event has held outdoor games.
The TBT announced Thursday that Rucker Park will host matches July 16-20, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals at the University of Dayton on July 29-30.
“Rucker Park has always been a dream of ours,” TBT founder and CEO Jon Mugar told ESPN. “TBT is an open tournament format, and we want it to be a celebration of all things basketball. People come together from the pros, from the college, from the YMCA. And Rucker Park, for me, has always been the pinnacle of a crucible for basketball. Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson are playing there against guys you’ve never heard of before. This opening epitomizes TBT.
Mugar said the idea was born after last summer’s event, when organizers were looking for unique locations to host games. They had never played outside before – they got closer during the bubble environment of 2020, when the idea of putting a pitch in the middle of Ohio Stadium was heavily discussed – and Rucker Park seemed be the perfect place to pursue.
The first group organizers contacted to gauge interest was the National Basketball Players Association, which had partnered with NYC Parks to renovate Greg Marius Court at Rucker Park.
“We are very excited about this partnership and supporting the basketball tournament that will take place on the newly renovated Greg Marius Court at Holcombe Rucker Park,” said the NBPA president and New Orleans Pelicans guard. CJ McCollum, in a statement. “This tournament promotes and celebrates the game of basketball in a truly unique way and it’s a natural collaboration for the NBPA and our players.”
After the NBPA joined, Mugar and the TBT also received membership from the office of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, NYC Parks, two groups that use the park – Entertainers 155 Rucker Park, and the National Association of Each One Teach. One Inc. – and The Doe Fund and landed Chick-Fil-A Tri State as presenting partner.
“It’s a big development for us,” Mugar told ESPN. “It’s a great opportunity for us because we’re in year 9 and the opportunity wouldn’t have presented itself without eight years of history. It was a huge undertaking to get to this point. The partnership with the NBPA, the mayor’s office, the parks department played a big part in it, the organizations that play in Rucker Park, we wouldn’t have come to this place without the story.
Mugar said his dream would be for Jay Z and Fat Joe to each enter a team for the Rucker Regional, reminiscent of the legendary 2003 game that never happened. The New York rappers had assembled teams of stars to face off in Rucker Park before a power outage canceled the match.
“If these two get into a team, we will face them in the first round,” Mugar said.
The TBT began in 2014, when Notre Dame Fighting Alumni won the first championship. Overseas Elite won the next four titles before their streak ended in 2019 at the hands of Carmen’s Crew, an Ohio State alumni team. The Marquette-centric Golden Eagles alumni won in 2020, with Syracuse-focused Boeheim Army winning the title last season.
Other regionals this summer will be in Charleston, University of Dayton, University of New Mexico, Omaha, Syracuse, Wichita State University and Xavier University.
The championship team wins $1 million in a win-win title match televised on ESPN. This summer’s championship game will be played at Dayton on August 2.
When asked if the Rucker Park business is opening up other outdoor options in the future – and if the TBT has any other surprises for this summer’s event – Mugar was coy.
“Everything is an option with TBT,” he said.