OBL founder and NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady and Emmy Award-winning sports industry veteran Jeffrey Pollack team up to bring exciting one-one one basketball tournaments to NYC and five other cities
The Ones Basketball League (OBL), created by NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady, is in the first year of regional competition and is taking place in six cities across the U.S. The OBL is a first-ever elite competition that celebrates the most skilled one-on-one players on the planet.
The seven-time NBA All-Star, sports commentator and entrepreneur has teamed up with Emmy Award-winning media and sports industry veteran Jeffrey Pollack to create a thrilling atmosphere for fans and participants.
McGrady and Pollack joined SportsJam with Doug Doyle in person at the Standard East Village hotel in Manhattan to talk about the OBL and why they're so excited about this weekend's regional action at the Major R. Owens Community Center hosted by New Heights, Brooklyn, New York.
McGrady says his sons viewing and sports consumer habits prompted him to create a short and entertaining one-on-one competition that resonates with young audiences.
"I have two sons, 16 and 13, and I also have an AAU youth program for 5th grade to 10th grade and that's where all my information comes from. These guys don't watch NBA games. They don't watch NCAA basketball. It's just not their generation, it's not what they grew up in. It's too long of content for them to sit down for two and half or three hours to watch. They are more engaged with YouTube, short clips, you know the Tik-Toks, that's what they're engaging in. You know for me, having those conversations with them, this was just perfect timing. Had I started this ten years ago, I don't think it would have worked. Where basketball is going and the Gen Zers, what is intriguing to them, this is perfect."
The OBL has announced it's established a partnership with SHOWTIME Sports which will distribute a behind the scenes all access documentary feature for its YouTube channel capturing the story of this season through the eyes of Tracy McGrady.
Jeffrey Pollack recently signed on as a strategic advisor to help lead business planning and operations and create top-notch events and experiences.
"I believe in Tracy's vision. I agree there is an opportunity to present the essence of the game in a totally new way. And from a business standpoint, this is very much a Gen Z property. It is tailor-made for where sports fans are headed. It's about digital content. It's about social influencers. It is about athletes and personalities and it's about playing to the short attention span that kids have. I have an 11-year old son who I don't think has ever watched a sporting event from beginning to end and there's no interest. He's a sports fan but the way he consumes sports is totally different than the way I did or Tracy did growing up. It's about what you are seeing through social media, digital media and it's about connecting to personalities before anything else."
Pollack has more than 25 years of leadership experience driving catalytic change, growth, and innovation for family-owned, private-equity backed, and corporate-based ventures. He was most recently the President and CEO of the XFL.
The OBL is invite-only, but interested athletes have been submitting their highlight footage on the OBL website for consideration. The winner of each city will take home a $10,000 cash prize along with an invite to the Finals in Las Vegas which will see 21 players compete for a chance to win $250K and be crowned "Ruler of the Court".
McGrady admits the possibilities are endless for the OBL including a possible women's competition next year. The two-time NBA scoring champion who gained fame with the Orlando Magic and many other teams including a season with the Knicks, is impressed with most of the participants' game and attitude.
"When I look a my career and how I got where I am today, it's a land of opportunity. I've played with a lot of these guys that yes that may have got the opportunity, but in a structured system they weren't allowed to be themselves. Guys can get depressed if they don't have that liberation as a basketball player and then their careers really don't pan out like some of these guys wanted it to. Having conversations with these guys, they love this because it's just them. It's a platform to just unleashed their basketball skills that they worked tirelessly and put in a lot of hours in becoming the best version of themselves as a basketball player."
McGrady says he would have loved an opportunity to play one-on-one with the legendary Michael Jordan. T-Mac decided to skip college and decalre himself eligible for the NBA draft in 1997. The Toronto Raptors selected him in the first round round (the ninth overall selection). McGrady is considered by many publications as one of the top 100 players to ever wear an NBA uniform.
The 2017 Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee thinks one of the winners of the OBL may get a chance to have a pro tryout but may not be interested in that kind of competition.
Pollack agrees that winning the OBL may be enough for them.
"Yes, there will be players who may go to the NBA but for others that connectivity and being part of the OBL family and the broad and expansive vision we have for it, I think is going to be so meaningful. This is so wonderful because it's so authentic to who (Tracy McGrady) is and his story."
McGrady, who is a New York Yankees fan, played Atlantic League Baseball in 2014. He pitched a few games for the Sugar Land Skeeters.
"Baseball is my first love and I played it up to my junior year (high school).
Basketball fans are certainly glad he eventually made the choice to pursue a career on the hardwood and now create a league that has caught the attention of Gen Zers and many others.