Red Bull King of the Rock

by Eldon Khorshidi | @eldonadam

In the spring and summer of 2010, the highly anticipated Red Bull King of the Rock tournament was a breakthrough, first-of-its-kind basketball event, infusing much-needed life and energy into the streetball circuit. Sixty-four men competed on the iconic concrete of “The Rock” at Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco Bay, all with hopes of being crowned King of the Rock and taking home the accompanying $10,000 check. The event marked Alcatraz’s first-ever sporting event since notorious inmates such as Al Capone and “Machine Gun Kelly” left more than 50 years ago.

After several grueling, survive-and-advance battles, Izeah “Clutch” Bowman took home the cash and the crown, handed to him by none other than Boston Celtics star point guard Rajon Rondo. While 2010 was a breakthrough summer, in the bigger picture, it was merely a launching pad for what was to follow.

Welcome to 2012, where the Red Bull King of the Rock tournament is bigger and better than ever.

Featuring 64 ballers from 26 different countries, the tournament is now fully global. Starting in early April, players from all corners of the map showcased their skills in qualifiers, pitting themselves in a one-on-one tournament to see who could dominate the court and earn a ticket to the Bay Area. This year’s event offers an upped $20,000 pot, and, of course, the Red Bull King of the Rock crown.

In addition to 30 domestic U.S. qualifiers, international qualifiers were held to assemble the field that will compete in the world championship event on September 22, 2012. Tryouts took place in the following countries: Dominican Republic, Georgia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Slovak Republic, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Jamaica, Italy, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Canada and Ukraine.

The qualifiers and finals follow similar rules and regulations. The tournament is a one-on-one format, where players go head-to-head on an outdoor court using a single elimination tournament bracket. There are only two options—win and advance, or lose and go home. At the end of the day, one winner will emerge from the pack.

Games will last five minutes, with regulation scoring rules in place. There are both two- and three-pointers, and there are consequences for being over-aggressive—five fouls equals an automatic loss. Victors will have a few minutes to celebrate their accomplishment, and then put it in the back of their minds, as it’s on to the next court to face another hungry opponent.

Of course, skill and talent are the foundation for a successful run. But in order to go all the way, strategy, endurance and mental fortitude are just as—if not more—essential in the overall formula.

The 64 finalists that will duel it out on Alcatraz are comprised as follows: the top player from each of the 23 international qualifiers; the top player from each of the 30 U.S. qualifiers; returning champions Izeah “Clutch” Bowman (2010) and Hugh “Baby Shaq” Jones (2011), and the remaining spots will be filled with selected runners-up from the U.S. qualifiers.

Tournament hopefuls traveled from all corners of the globe, waited in line for countless hours, and exerted inordinate amounts of sweat, energy and effort to secure their spot in the main event. In the end, though, the unforgiving concrete courts will dispense of virtually everyone.

The last man standing, however, will be crowned King of the Rock.




Houston: Kendrick Cornelius

Dallas: TJ Gipson

Las Vegas: David Vik

Boston: Sedale Threatt Jr

Fort Dix: Damen Johnson

Fort Drum: Dominique Polite

Fort Lee: Brandon Wheeles

Louisville: Dominique Denning

Norfolk: Corey Haywood

Quantico: Nathan Sales

Fort Bliss: Caleb Hunter

St. Louis: Ryun Davis

Philadelphia: Adrian Woodard

Miami: Julian Vasquez

Los Angeles: Maurice Spillers

Atlanta: Chris Anderson


Germany: Nico Kami

Italy: Pietro Fusella

Kuwait: Ahmed Al Fadly

Serbia: Nebojsa Boskovic

Slovakia: Jaroslav Ciho

United Arab Emirates: Qais Omar Al Shabibi

Brazil: Leandro Lima

Turkey: Sinan Tunel

Georgia: Vato Tevzadze

Canada: Aaron Duncan

Austria: Alexander Lanegger