In recent years, summertime has become something of a haven for former Syracuse Orange basketball players looking to play professional basketball in the United States.
Two years ago was the first annual The Basketball Tournament, an NCAA-style single-elimination tournament comprised of teams made up of former college stars and overseas professional players.
Boeheim’s Army, the Syracuse alumni team made up of former Orange stars like Eric Devendorf and Hakim Warrick, has given these players the chance to compete for quite the payday ($2 million prize for the winner of this year’s tournament) on American soil.
The Basketball Tournament is not alone anymore.
The newly formed Champions Basketball League will begin play next summer and one of our former Orangemen will be playing a prominent role.
Former Syracuse All-American John Wallace will be the head coach for the league’s New York franchise, known as the Gotham Ballers.
The league is made up of 16 teams and consists of former NBA players looking to prolong their professional basketball careers.
According to Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com, Wallace said he was approached by Carl George, the CEO of the Champions Basketball League, about coaching the Ballers.
“They reached out to me about a year ago,” Wallace said via telephone to Syracuse.com. “We started a dialogue. I did my due diligence and it made sense. It looked like they had the right people involved. And it’s going to be a fun thing to do during the summer.”
Wallace joins a star-studded group of executives for the Gotham Ballers, whose front office includes NBA legends Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe.
The team’s roster also includes a number of familiar names, such as Al Harrington, Kenyon Martin, Shawn Marion, Eddy Curry, Kareem Rush, Tyshawn Taylor, Jamaal Tinsley, Terrence Williams, Josh Childress, Daniel Gibson and Renaldo Balkman.
Wallace believes this league will offer players an enticing option once they reach the end of their NBA careers. Whereas in the past they may have opted for playing overseas, they can now potentially stay in the U.S. to be close to family and friends.
Wallace also said that players will be paid about $200,000 for only two months of games. Not too bad a pay day. Teams that make it to the playoffs will receive bonuses.
“I think it’s gonna be cool,” Wallace said. “It’s starting to get some real legs and now, we’ve got ESPN involved.”
The league games will be broadcast on ESPN3.
Wallace has already started getting involved in league activities, participating in two clinics for the league in New York City. The clinics are aimed at turning kids towards healthier lifestyles while emphasizing the importance of school. Check it out: