The Basketball Tournament began in 2014 as an enterprising idea with a democratic approach. The premise: Anyone could build a squad with the teammates of their choice (aside from players under current NBA contracts) and get voted into a nationwide, winner-take-all tournament for $1 million.
Then $1 million became $2 million. The idea took fire, and the event's grown more popular each year. It's been fun for basketball fans -- college basketball fans in particular -- because so many of the players in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) are former college hoops stars.
So the tourney stood to be a nostalgia-driven championship that was peppered with former major D-I names and executed in a single-elimination format. In theory, over the course of a few years, you'd get a variety of champions from around the country -- maybe even thanks to a team-up of alumni from a powerhouse college basketball program.
The only problem is one team isn't playing along. The best ongoing dynasty in organized American basketball was cemented on Friday night when Overseas Elite won 70-58 vs. Eberlein Drive to win yet another TBT title. This team has won the whole freaking thing four years straight. They're the Golden State Warriors of TBT -- only better. Overseas Elite has amassed $7 million in winnings and never lost a game! The team is 25-0 in the history of the event.
Since 2015, every other player/team who's participated in TBT since the tournament began has totaled $0 in winnings.
That's a ludicrous statistic for what is a single-elimination tournament, played year after year, against competition that seemingly is on equal footing.
It's incredible to watch. The team's so good, in fact, you wonder how a couple of the guys on the roster (all of whom are playing professionally elsewhere in the world, as the team's name alludes to) haven't managed to stick with an NBA franchise.
Speaking of the NBA, Erick McCollum, younger brother of Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, got paid Friday night. He's good. It's plays like this, and watching this type of event, that reminds you just how good so many players around the world are ... who never get a sniff of actually playing in the NBA.
So who's on Overseas Elite? Here's the ironic part: this dynasty is not overloaded with former college All-Americans. You might think that a team that runs roughshod year after year would be stacked with studs and prior BMOCs, but not here.
Erick McCollum didn't even play D-I; he attended NAIA Goshen College out of Indiana. Others on the Overseas Elite roster include Kyle Fogg (Arizona), Jeremy Pargo (Gonzaga), D.J. Kennedy (St. John's), DeAndre Kane (Iowa State), Todd O'Brien (Saint Joseph's), Justin Burrell (St. John's), Marc Hughes (Alabama A&M), Johndre Jefferson (South Carolina), Paris Horne (St. John's), L.T. Lockette (Middle Tennessee State) and Will McDonald (South Florida).
Chances are good you never saw at least half that roster play in college. Yet they comprise the most dominant team we've seen. Honestly, they'd probably destroy most G League teams at this point.
It's pretty cool. They were a dominant team that still somehow had a Cinderella-type feel to them.
Fortunately for the event, Friday night was apparently a send-off. D.J. Kennedy announced on-air that Friday's championship was the final TBT game for Overseas Elite. It's probably better this way. It's time to break up this party and spice up the playing field come 2019.
If anything,in this event, could set up for more schools and their former stars to give a TBT push in the years to come.
Which leads me to this: Can the American public get too much basketball? More and more, I think the answer is no. Think about it. With the uptick in interest around the NBA Draft, the increased exposure and good-natured hype tied to NBA Summer League, the growth of coverage and intrigue for college hoops recruiting and the advancement of TBT, it feels like the sport of basketball is covered more than 10 months out of the year now.
The appetite for basketball in so many forms continues to deepen.
It wouldn't be a surprise to look up in five years and see more tournaments, more events, more reasons for basketball to find audiences deep into late summer. With how the NBA has spiraled up under the rocket boost of LeBron James -- and in the era of the Warriors -- this isn't a renaissance. It's proof of how much growth an already humongous global sport can still provide.