I just returned from Las Vegas on Sunday and I could not help but notice the many boys and girls with their parents participating in an array of basketball tournaments taking place there.
Basketball tournaments and camps must be a billion dollar business and the primary consumers are African Americans, with very few if any Blacks at the top of the food chain.
One man who appeared to be a coach was seen carrying water into one of the local hotels on the strip for his players.
Several times I saw young teens strolling about the strip during late night hours in the nearly 100-degree temperature.
With the economy tight, airfares peeking, gasoline escalating and jobs harder to come by, the new get rich quick scheme is basketball events.
For Las Vegas it is the financial relief that this economy needed. Parents, who bring their children to play, gamble and drink and might even take in a show while the kid is hanging out with his teammates and coaches.
Individuals who run these tournaments are really promoters and they are responsible for securing the gym, officials, and insurance and there is limited sponsorship money to go around, so in essence the team fee and charge at the door is the butter that spreads their bread.
The big boys Reebok, Nike and Adidas monopolize teams that they sponsor with money and sports gear so that those teams will play in their tournament, but many times it’s not an exclusive arraignment and some of those teams play in more than just one.
College coaches will go wherever the players are and in many cases the prime time players are under the umbrella of one of the big three and the influence of a player attending a Nike school going to a Nike college is huge.
This week many of those same elite teams that played in Vegas will be at Loyola Marymount for the Double Pump event. The Pump brothers, David and Dana, are the host of the event this week and with over 100 teams at $500 per pop and an Adidas contract backing you then you do the math.
The Pump brothers say the rumors are not true that they will bolt Adidas for Nike, but if George Raveling retires after this year as anticipated, they would be the logical front-runners to replace him.
That may not sit well with Jeff Rogers who right now is Nike’s second in charge of basketball operations and quite capable of becoming the lead man, but those influential relations that the Pump brothers have built are enormous.
There was a time when the Blacks Thad McGrew and Dart Stamps were in the car with Nike, but they could not garner the big money contract that was offered to Pat Barrett of Orange County, so subsequently they were not successful.
Other Blacks to be given one-year shots were Mike Lewis and on a short leach is Gary Franklin.
Dinos Trogonis, who leads Belmont Shore program, doesn’t have a shoe contract and at one point was attempting to create his own brand. A lawyer, Trogonis lives is the exclusive Belmont Shore community, has his own website and evaluating service, and spurns out one camp after another.
Hurting for money and want to get your bills paid, then follow the bouncing ball.