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Slamball Season Starts July 21

Steve Marcus

Kieth Magee, left, of the Ozone goes up for a dunk as Amir Smith of the Slashers defends during a Slamball scrimmage at PRG Studios Thursday, July 13, 2023. Slamball, a type of basketball played with four trampolines in front of each net, will open its season July 21 at the Cox Pavilion.

General admission – $30 Reserved

Reserved – $50

1st Row Reserved w/on court – $100

Courtside VIP – $125

Tickets can be purchased at

It was about two years ago that Mason Gordon heard the rumblings for SlamBall to return.

The hashtag #BringBackSlamBall surfaced on social media. Organizations like Barstool Sports and ESPN, and notable athletes like Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum were spreading the word.

The cultlike following of the popular trampoline basketball league that began play 20 years ago was alive and well. Gordon said SlamBall media was viewed more than 200 million times in a yearlong span before the announcement was made last August that it would be returning.

Now, SlamBall returns as an organized league for the first time in two decades with a four-week run in Las Vegas starting tonight at Cox Pavilion (4 p.m., ESPN).

“We’re back by popular demand,” said the league’s founder and CEO.

Eight teams comprised of players from different athletic backgrounds will take part in the month-long season that will conclude Aug. 17 for the league’s championship. Some legacy teams are returning — the Mob, Rumble and Slashers are from the league’s inception. The Lava, Buzzsaw, Gryphons, Ozone and Wrath are making their debuts.

Former football players, tennis players and those who do parkour are just a few examples of the players that are participating. Of course, there are those that the game was initially made for — basketball players.

The logistics from the game that some will remember from two decades ago still apply, but in a new era built around social media, Gordon has confidence that SlamBall can reach larger heights than before.

What is SlamBall?

In 2002, The National Network (TNN) broadcast the first season of SlamBall. When the network changed to Spike TV in 2003, it was the sport at the time that was built for the 18-34 male demographic that the channel was trying to reach.

Gordon first came up with the concept in 1999. Three years later, it became a phenomenon.

Eight trampolines in total were placed on a basketball court, four on each side of the court. Teams would get three points for each dunk, two for a layup and jumpshot. The trampolines allowed for a game’s worth of highlight-reel slams that would flood SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays.

But SlamBall is more than just the dunks and the basketball-like focus. It’s a contact sport that uses the physical element of hockey and football that go beyond the common foul in basketball.

Put them together, and it created a unique product not seen on television before.

“Knowing that it’s all integrated in the sport, it excites me,” said Dionte Byrd, a former basketball player at Fort Valley State in Fort Valley, Ga., now playing for the Mob. “With a football mind, they get more physical. With a basketball mind, we get more technical.”

Though it wasn’t viewed as an alternative league for those who didn’t pan out in their respective sports, it welcomed all types of athletes. Trevor Anderson, the coach of the Ozone, was a former football player turned SlamBall MVP.

Now, he’s excited to lend what he learned years ago and apply it to the new generation.

“It’s neat to teach one of your players something that you knew that made you successful that took you weeks and months to figure out and they get it right away,” Anderson said. “This new brand of athlete can do everything creatively.”

Though it did well in terms of ratings, SlamBall folded after two seasons due to disagreements with the league’s production company, Telepicture Productions.

Gordon’s attempts to revive SlamBall were met with approval, but didn’t hit the niche it had in 2003. It resurfaced on NBC Sports Network in 2007-08, then again for two years in China in 2015, but never garnered the traction from before.

Thanks to the surge on social media, SlamBall agreed to a two-year broadcasting deal with ESPN last month.

“What we did 20 years ago is press a button in the hearts and minds of a lot of people. Now, everywhere we turn we’re running into rabid SlamBall fans,” Gordon said. “Now, we can take a whole generation of fans who lived with us on social media for the last few years and press that button all over again.”

Rules of SlamBall

Like a regular basketball game, SlamBall has four quarters. The action, however, is nonstop.

Each quarter is five minutes long and has a running clock for all situations except for faceoffs (SlamBall’s version of a jump ball) and timeouts.

The rosters are comprised of six players with four on-court at a time. Substitutions are similar to hockey with the coach making a change at any time. There are three positions: the handler (point guard), the gunner (scorer) and stopper (primary defender).

Scoring is now different with the addition of a 4-point shot — a normal 3-point shot in basketball. Slam dunks are still worth three points, and nondunks are worth two. The shot clock is 20 seconds, and it resets to 12 seconds on an offensive rebound.

One knock on the previous version of SlamBall, Gordon said, is that teams would run the same offense throughout the game.

Gordon hopes that with eight teams and eight different coaches, that there will be different ways to incorporate excitement. Anderson, for example, wants to incorporate how the Mob played during his playing days and translate it to the Ozone — a football-first mentality with the athleticism of basketball.

“That allowed us to create a lot of separation between us and the rest of the league,” Anderson said. “What I’m finding now is, for me, that’s the diversity I’m looking for. When you combine it the right way, it’s a perfect combination.”

The next generation

The legacy of SlamBall carries into these new players.

Four players whose dads played with Gordon 20 years ago are carrying the torch. Byrd, and his brother Donavin, are two of them. Their father George, a 6-foot-8 stopper who had a knack for running over defenders, was one of the league’s most popular players.

Dionte Byrd said growing up in Gainesville, Fla., there weren’t many heroes to look up to. His dad was one of them. Dionte is a stopper, like his dad, towering at 6-foot-7. Donavin Byrd is a gunner for the Ozone.

“Seeing the TV night after night — national TV at that — it was awesome,” he said. “It made me feel like I had more of a chance because my father did.”

There are also unconventional paths that players take to be part of SlamBall.

Slashers gunner Alonzo Scott, from Petersburg, Va., played basketball at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, N.C. He also runs a chimney sweep business called Swept From Above Chimney Services.

His experiences in that profession gave him the creativity to write children’s books about a superhero who saves animals stuck in chimneys. His latest book, “Super Zo and the Acorn Mission” is available on Amazon.

“I see animals in chimneys all the time so I just give them a little voice and characters, and I go from there,” Scott said.

Scott didn’t know much about SlamBall in the beginning, but watched the highlights and became hooked. Training camp ran for two weeks at PRG Studios, which turned into a crash course for everyone trying to learn the sport.

Scott’s basketball background helped, but there was plenty to learn.

“I’m not going to lie to you, it was tough,” he said. “There’s a lot of violations and stuff that you can make without even knowing it. Once you learn the game, you can be more confident.”

Alonzo Scott of the Slashers takes a jump during a Slamball scrimmage at PRG Studios Thursday, July 13, 2023. Slamball, a type of basketball played with four trampolines in front of each net, will open its season July 21 at the Cox Pavilion.

Alonzo Scott of the Slashers takes a jump during a Slamball scrimmage at PRG Studios Thursday, July 13, 2023. Slamball, a type of basketball played with four trampolines in front of each net, will open its season July 21 at the Cox Pavilion.

On the court is just starting point for Gordon in his quest to rejuvenate SlamBall. Capitalizing on the success through the internet, and turning the league into a global entity is next on his list.

The influence of social media, Gordon said, has the chance to take SlamBall to new levels. He sees it as the perfect sport to take advantage of the tools that Instagram and TikTok, for example, can create. Moving to ESPN, a more accessible network that has streaming capabilities, creates a greater chance for visibility than ever before.

From there, Gordon wants to globalize SlamBall and sees something bigger brewing.

Gordon said one thing the league will need to take seriously is finding a way to create a larger outreach for the game. He said he’s been approached by those to bring SlamBall to different parts of the United States — largely in part due to the ESPN deal. 

After this summer, he would like to incorporate international events, called SlamBall Majors, to see players from the likes of Australia and Asia, for example.

“We’ll be able to globalize our game in a fraction of the time that legacy sports took to do it,” he said.

Gordon is going all-in on making Las Vegas the central hub for SlamBall. He moved his family and team to Southern Nevada from Los Angeles for the next chapter of his creation.

One that he hopes will become a global empire this time around.

“SlamBall is going to blow some people’s minds,” he said. “Think of it as the greatest sports residency here in Las Vegas. If you have any opportunity to see SlamBall live, it will blow your mind.”

SlamBall schedule

Time: 4 p.m.

Where: Cox Pavilion

How to watch: ESPN

Games played

Rumble vs. Mob – 4 p.m.

Slashers vs. Lava – TBD

Winners of Games 1 and 2 to follow

Wrath vs. Gryphons – 6:30 p.m.

Ozone vs. Buzzsaw – TBD

Winners of Game 4 and 5 to follow

You can find the full schedule here.

Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun


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