NBA Jam Tournament: Could It Work On The Pro Level?


For my inaugural piece on this site, I’m venturing down a road that many of us have only dreamed about. It’s an answer to a question we’ve all asked, at least once, since the first time we entered the “big head” code, or caught fire while playing as Bill Clinton.

Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an actual two-on-two tournament with real NBA players?

All it takes is 5 easy steps to salvage a failing event, improve TV ratings, raise interest from players, and steal some of the spotlight from the NCAA.

Let me explain to you my elaborate idea…

1. Replace All-Star Weekend with a Two-Day NBA Jam Tournament

The NBA has been struggling with all-star weekend for quite some time. The Shooting Stars competition is a lame attempt at keeping the WNBA involved (News bulletin: it’s their offseason!!). The 3-point shootout has been lifeless since they stopped playing that awesome music. The dunk contest has “evolved” to a whole bunch of recycled dunks, with props and teammates thrown in. (I actually like the addition of HORSE, so let’s leave that one alone!) Another alternative would be to insert the tournament into the preseason (more on this later).

2. The Bracket

The bracket would be your standard 32-team, one and done tournament.  After teams have been selected, the entire league would be ranked 1-30, with the top two getting the automatic bye. The timing’s perfect because the NBA can steal some “March Madness” magic with some February bracketology. One of the most important aspects of this tournament is that every team has a decent chance of winning.  In an 82-game schedule, no one’s picking the Bobcats to have a better record than the Nuggets (or anyone else for that matter!). However, Denver’s run-and-gun style is useless in a half-court game of two-on-two! Also, what if Ben Gordon goes off on one of his hot streaks from downtown?

3. Games & Teams

Games would be played to 15, with each basket counting as 1 point, and each basket behind the three-point line counting as two points. Loser’s ball. Keeping games short will allow the teams to play 4-5 games in two days, while not putting a huge strain on players’ health. Each team would be allowed three players. No substitutes allowed during games (unless there’s an injury). This prohibits teams from making offensive/defensive switches after each play.

By the way, because this is reality, no one is going to be leaping 100 feet in the air or setting the ball on fire because of a hot streak.


4. Schedule

The first two rounds would be completed on Saturday, with the Quarters, Semis, and Finals taking place on Sunday. Again, we’re trying to save their legs for “real” games.

5. The Prize

The other problem with All-Star weekend is the prize.  Outside of bragging rights, the winner gets $35,000 in prize money.  Really? That doesn’t even cover the cost of one finger (the middle – Ivan Johnson, May 10, 2012 – $25,000 fine) and one tweet (JR Smith, March 9, 2012 – $25,000 fine). Let’s give them an incentive that’ll really help gain support from their respective cities. The winning team of this tournament is allowed an additional roster spot (in total, 13 active and 16 overall) for the remainder of the season, including playoffs. Referring back to the first step, what if this tournament took place in the pre-season, instead of All-Star weekend? Imagine the benefits one team would have if they had an extra body on the bench to help with the 82-game grind? Wouldn’t that keep every team interested?  The other benefit of having this tournament in the pre-season, is that each team will have a healthier roster to choose from (sorry Chicago!), than after 50 games.


There you have it, Mr. Stern.  You get to showcase more of the world’s best basketball players (90, instead of 24), over a 2-day period, where every team has a fighter’s chance at winning.

Make it happen!

(I fully expect some readers to react to this idea with a “it’s never going to happen” kind of attitude”. I realize that, but you know what? Let’s just pretend it might, shall we?)

As an added bonus, over the next week or so I will be going through an actual NBA Jam Tournament with the current NBA rosters.

Who would actually emerge victorious from this event? Be sure to check it out! 

Monday, October 15 – Eastern Conference Teams

Wednesday, October 17 – Western Conference Teams

Friday, October 19 – The Bracket

Monday, October 22 – Round 1: 14 Games, 14 Predictions

Wednesday, October 24 – Round of 16

Friday, October 26 – Your NBA Jam Tournament Champion

Jay Rosales joins the Sir Charles In Charge staff after writing for the “More Than Just A Game” sports blog. Be sure to check it out at

Tags: All-Star Weekend NBA NBA Jam

comments powered by Disqus