September 25, 2022

A new head-to-head basketball league traveling to the United States bills itself as “‘American Idol’ for sports”.

Only instead of Simon Cowell finding America’s next famous singer, former NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady hopes to discover the next great basketball player with his league dubbed “The Ones,” or OBL.

The game began in April and will continue through July, with the eventual winner taking home a quarter million of T-Mac’s cash in Las Vegas. Houston and New York have hosted tournaments before, and Los Angeles will host this month’s event. The two-day, weekend-long tournament whittled down a roster of 32 players to eight, with one lucky contestant taking home $10,000 on day two.

“There are a lot of guys out there that have the same ability to play at the NBA level; they just can’t fit into certain roles,” McGrady, a seven-time NBA All-Star, told Yahoo. Finance in an interview (video above). “So the untapped talent that’s out there has probably been told they’re not good enough; they can’t do this; they can’t do that – I provide the platform.”

A “tailor-made” league for Generation Z

Jeffrey Pollack, former president of the XFL minor football league, works with McGrady as the league’s strategic advisor, which anyone can apply to join.

“It’s our pilot season if you will, and we’re really organizing the players for each city to make sure we have the right ingredients to do the most important thing this season,” Pollack said, “which is proving and to test Tracy’s brilliant and competitive thesis.

McGrady says his two teenage sons partially inspired the idea because they prefer watching highlights or clips on social media rather than entire games.

“Gen Z consumes sport very differently than any other generation,” Pollack said. “They focus on short, digital and snackable content. They put personalities and players before teams and OBL is tailor-made for this generation.

Detroit Pistons guard Tracy McGrady (R) is pressured by Chicago Bulls guard CJ Watson (L) and guard Ronnie Brewer (C) during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Michigan on December 26 2010. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook ( UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

While fans can buy tickets to events on the league’s website, you can’t see the OBL on network television yet.

“We’re experimenting with digital and social content to figure out what the right note to hit is,” Pollack noted.

Picking up a page from the recent US Formula 1 success with its hit Netflix documentary ‘Drive to Survive’, McGrady adds: “We have just announced a deal with Showtime where they will co-produce a behind-the-scenes documentary with us for everyone to enjoy. about this proof-of-concept season, but so far the results are really positive.

The OBL has competitions in the Ice Cube 3-on-3 “Big 3” league, which includes former NBA players. There’s also the new Overtime Elite League, funded in part by rapper Drake, which pays six-figure salaries to high school players who play traditional five-on-five basketball.

McGrady, however, argues that his platform stands out from the rest.

“We’re adding another dynamic to it, giving a bigger platform and trying to make it global and expand it, but it’s good to have competition,” he said.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 27: Jeffrey Pollack attends March of Dimes Get SET Los Angeles at Novo Theater at LA Live on June 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for March of Dimes)

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 27: Jeffrey Pollack attends March of Dimes Get SET Los Angeles at Novo Theater at LA Live on June 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for March of Dimes)

McGrady was a dominant isolation player in his day, winning the scoring title twice, averaging 32 points per game in 2002 with the Orlando Magic. He hopes to one day have some familiar names one-on-one in the OBL, but for now, his dream match would be Michael Jordan against the late Kobe Bryant.

“I would pay a lot of money to see that, there are no more two players who mirror each other than those two,” he added.

Among today’s stars, T-Mac would face Golden State Warriors star shooter Steph Curry against enigmatic Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving. The two are “highly skilled, similar in size and often compared,” he said.

And who does McGrady think would take home the winning prize?

“I think because of Kyrie’s skill set, that’s what he does, he’s a one-on-one type of basketball player, I would say Kyrie surpasses Steph,” McGrady said.

Just as “American Idol” turned Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood into global musical sensations, OBL hopes to produce the next Kyrie and Steph.

“We want to identify the greatest one-on-one basketball player in our country, and then in turn, hopefully in three or four years, who is the greatest player in the world,” McGrady said.

Dave is a presenter for Yahoo Finance Live.

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