NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady is working to expose the world to the players overlooked in basketball through his newest venture, Ones Basketball League (OBL).
The one-vs-one league is McGrady’s first venture, his brainchild featuring an elite competition that celebrates the most skilled players on the planet.
“I’ve always invested in other people’s ideas and other people’s vision,” McGrady said to CNBC. “Not once did I ever trust mine. I didn’t have the confidence to think mine was good enough. I didn’t trust my ideas or decision-making when it came to my vision.
“This is the first time I actually trusted and believed that I can pull this off.”
The league is going to six cities across the U.S. via a two-day, regional, 32-player round-robin knockout tournament. Athletes aged 18 and up that are currently not under an NBA contract and have not been on an active NBA roster for more than 164 games (equivalent to two NBA regular seasons) are eligible.
The regional tournaments hit basketball meccas: New York City, the DMV region and Los Angeles, with winners of each regional tournament taking home a $10,000 cash prize.
Generation Z Style Tournament
Additionally, winners receive an invitation to the finals, which will see 21 players (the top three from each region) compete to win a $250,000 grand prize and be crowned “Ruler of the Court.” McGrady reportedly will pay out close to $10 million, including the $250,000 prize to the OBL champion.
The spark to start the entity came from McGrady’s two teenage sons, who showed him one-on-one basketball through the short form content they consume. He realized that Generation Z is a market with longevity, as they are more tuned into “YouTube, short-form content, highlights,” and don’t watch live NBA or NCAA games.
The participants come from a combination of open-sourced video submissions and the advice of basketball insiders. The aim is to welcome both best-in-class talent and players who may still be under the radar of most basketball fans. The inaugural events will feature only men.
However, women will be welcomed as equal participants as soon as 2023.
OBL Is Outside
McGrady is off to a fantastic start, jumping out the gate with a content partnership with Showtime Sports bringing media distribution to the start-up league.
Showtime is bringing the slick firepower of its behind-the-scenes, all-access documentary feature style, made famous by their ALL ACCESS brand for championship boxing. However, they will capture the story of the inaugural season through the eyes of T-Mac. Showtime Sports will also produce content through the league’s Las Vegas Championship in July.
Minor League With Major League Vision
“The production and creative team at SHOWTIME Sports knows how to build and tell stories like no one else, and the detailed background and exciting drama we have already started to capture with OBL makes this content partnership a perfect fit for us,” McGrady said in a statement.
“The team at SHOWTIME shares our excitement for putting a spotlight on one-on-one basketball and all of the great action, rich stories, and hyper-competition that flows from the game.”
McGrady is looking at OBL as a minor league with a niche basketball-loving audience and is coming for not-so-well-known sports properties with a unique entertainment brand.