Red Bull King of the Rock Marks First Sporting Event Ever Held on Alcatraz

SAN FRANCISCO, CA  (Profitable.com)  Last night history was made as Red Bull King of the Rock, a one-on-one basketball tournament, was held in The Yard on Alcatraz. The event marked the first official sporting event ever held on Alcatraz, and the first time basketball has been played there since the inmates left the island over 50 years ago. After several hours of intense game play on one of the most iconic locations on earth, Los Angeles’ Isaiah “Clutch” Bowman lived up to his nickname and beat Phoenix’s Gary Smith with a clutch shot breaking the six-six tie with two seconds remaining on the clock to claim the crown as Red Bull King of the Rock.

It was an unusually boisterous night in The Yard on Alcatraz as more than 600 people crowded behind the infamous prison walls to watch one of the most unique one-on-one competitions ever. Sixty-four players from across the West Coast went head-to-head to test their skills — as well as their endurance. The competitors soon learned they had to play not only against each other, but also against the island itself. Players had to adjust their game to account for the cracked and uneven ground, heavy fog, chilly weather and blustery wind.

With four courts hosting simultaneous games, each had a unique story to tell for the guests in the stands. Court 1 hosted David Moseley, a qualifier from Oakland who went to the Final Four with Stanford University in 1998. Mosley showed he still has the skills and made it to the elite eight, but finally was ousted in a close game by eventual runner-up Gary Smith. Court 2 started off with a heart-warming moment when it was announced that San Francisco’s Lawrence Coburn became a new father to a baby girl just days before. But Kris Smith, who qualified in Oakland, beat Coburn in the first round and continued on all the way to the final four, eventually being eliminated by Gary Smith. On Court 3, Red Bull King of the Rock winner Isaiah “Clutch” Bowman held the spotlight for the majority of the games. Court 4 saw an intense game that went into triple overtime in the sweet sixteen round between Google employee Aaron Weissman, dubbed by announcers as “the white Rondo,” and Nwaluze Umeh, who qualified in the second place position at the Oakland stop.

While the players were blessed with no rainstorms, the notorious Bay Area fog loomed eerily in The Yard and made the concrete courts slippery and the basketballs dewy, adding more challenges to an already difficult physical and mental game. When a referee had to dry off a game ball, announcer Bobbito Garcia joked that he has never seen a referee also act as a ball boy. Just before the semi-finals, select players participated in a slam dunk contest that earned top honors for San Francisco’s Sante Gayle

The finals were an intense and physical showdown between the heavily favored Gary Smith and Isaiah Bowman. Both worn down physically, the two pushed themselves to the limit, fighting against the rising wind. As the clock ran down, Bowman was able to find the hoop with only two seconds left on the clock. “My emotions were going wild,” said Isaiah Bowman. “This tournament had the types of games I live for. One-on-one. Do or die. I just feel honored to be here and to have had the chance to compete. Basketball on Alcatraz — Amazing!”

Basketball superstar Rajon Rondo was highly impressed with the talent on display and found that Alcatraz was “pretty much one of the coolest and most unique places you could possibly play basketball.”

Sixty-four players earned their spot on the rock through six qualifiers held in Los Angeles (July 17), San Diego (July 24), Phoenix, (July 31), Seattle (August 7), San Francisco (August 28) and Oakland (September 11). 

A 30 minute television show of Red Bull King of the Rock will air on the following networks:
FOX Sports West – October 9th after the Kings vs. Canucks game
FOX Sports Arizona – October 10th at 10:00pm
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area – October 8th at 6:30pm, October 9th at 7:30pm, October 10th at 5:30pm & 10:00pm

Both the Qualifiers and the Finals on Alcatraz followed a straightforward concept where players went head-to-head in raw outdoor basketball, using a single-elimination tournament bracket. Games lasted five minutes and were subject to regulation hoops rules and scoring (two and three pointers). Players had to be tough to make it to The Rock, but also had to play smart — five fouls equaled an automatic loss. After each game, the loser walked, and the winner faced his next opponent. Thus, the more a player won, the longer he played. So while pure hoops ability was essential, endurance also played a major role in overall victory. 

Visit www.redbullusa.com/kingoftherock for more information. 

Red Bull teamed up with 2K Sports, Converse, SLAM and 24 Hour Fitness for this historic event.