The motto “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” may be true, but over the April 22-24, weekend history was made as the Coady Roundball Classic was played outside of Chicago for the first time in 25 years. The National Gay Basketball Championships hosted 31 teams from ten cities across the US and Canada and welcome newcomers Colorado Altitude. NYC Rim City and the Los Angeles-based LA Metro Black.
The weekend began with a membership meeting to discuss the future plans for the National Gay Basketball Association (NGBA) and to give members the opportunity to ask questions about the organization and policies. The meeting was attended by 20 player representatives for a number of different city teams.
Friday evening saw the kicked off of the inaugural NGBA Skills Challenge event, that gave players the chance to shine on their own. 12 players registered in advance for the Free Throw Challenge, Obstacle Course Shootout, and the Three-Point contest. No one knew what to expect, but those that participated and watched were treated to a wonderful exhibition of basketball skills. Zea from the Atlanta Hustle took top honors in the Free-throw shootout, with Willie V Representing the SF Jas, was the runner-up. When the Obstacle course challenge began the energy level began to rise as the players were ready to compete in the 60 sec fast pace dribble and shoot contest.
The Obstacle challenge created by Jay Irby, had shooters using their dribbling skills to navigate around five places on the court to knock down as many shots the could in 60 seconds. Scott C representing the Austin Flames took first place, with Chris O representing first timers Colorado Altitude getting runner-up honors.
The Inaugural Skilled Challenge ended with the three-point contest everyone was waiting for. The double-elimination event left many of the players a little tired, but when the 3 point contest began you would not have known it. Chris O from Colorado Altitude lead the first round with 10 made 3 pointers, he then followed that up with a score of11 in the second round to finally meet Scott from Austin in the quarter round only to lose 8 to 7. Chris worked his way through the bottom bracket to get one more shot at Scott. But in the end, Scott took away top honors in his second straight event.
Friday night, tournament participants met at Share Nightclub and were met with a buffet of heavy hors d’ourves and free drinks. Like all clubs in Vegas, the nights don’t get busy until after midnight, but that was not the case at Club Share. 300 basketball players arrived to check in, drink and the party beginning at 8 pm. The players and their friends had a really good time.
Saturday morning the games began. Six courts, 12 referees, and 60 players all started running at 9 am. Games went from 9 am to 5 pm, all to set up the brackets for elimination. Colorado Altitude ( Competitive-) started the day out a little rough losing their first game to the veteran NYC Cheerios team but bounced back to fall to the SF Jas by 3 points. The Altitude had a tough draw this go around losing to both of the eventual champion’s SF Jas and NYC Cheerios.
When asked on Sunday how they felt the Altitude Captain Chris Otero responded, “We feel great. We are in the right division and next time we will be ready to compete”. The other first-timers NYC Rim City (Competitive) started out by winning their first two games beating LA Vipers 39-to 45, and LA Dream 67-41. But like the Altitude, Rim City lost their third game to the eventual division Champion LA Metrostars.
Grover Francis, NYC Rim City Captain, says “It was an awesome experience to take part in my first national gay basketballball tournament. It hit me after the first days’ games as I thought ‘wow this is great all these guys who love basketball and are very talented, and we’re all gay’.
NGBA tournaments offer 6 divisions of play that offer playing levels from beginner to high school, college and above, and the NGBA motto, More Than Basketball, can be experienced over these weekends.
Francis continues “There was a real feeling of a community and it was inspiring. This doesn’t mean the competition wasn’t fierce because every play of every game was intense and was hard fought. My team came up short but we left it all on the court. I cannot wait to compete at the next tournament!”
The NGBA is a community that is open to every player that is willing to take part of in a positive and supportive way. Sunday began the single elimination tournament. A couple teams were outmatched in their divisions, but the majority of games went down to the wire.
Champions Brothas United
Runner Up Army of Happy
Champions Harlem Angeles
Runner Up Phoenix Gold
Champions LA Metrostars
Runner Up Austin Flames
Champions LA Vipers
Runner Up ATL Hustle
Competitive – Upper
Champions NYC Cheerios
Runner Up SLC Missionaries
Competitive – Lower
Champions SF Jas
Runner Up SLC Young Bucks
Runner Up LA Nightmare
More results can be found here.