The start of the NBA season is still over a month away, but competitive basketball is returning even sooner than that. The Basketball Tournament, a winner-take-all 5-on-5 tournament featuring the best players in the world not on NBA contracts, is set to tip off on July 4. The seventh-annual TBT will be taking place in Columbus, Ohio as a fanless event.
Although no current NBA players will be suiting up in the tournament, plenty of former players fill the rosters of the 24 teams. As we wait for the 2019-20 Clippers to return to the court, let’s find some rooting interests in this year’s TBT by taking a look back at some previous Clippers who will be taking the floor in Columbus.
Bobby Brown, who suited up for the Clippers for 23 games in 2009-10 but didn’t leave much of an impression, is a member of Overseas Elite. Overseas Elite, so named because they feature the best overseas players, went undefeated and won four consecutive titles from 2015-2018. Last year, the first year that Brown was on the team, they lost to Carmen’s Crew (the Ohio State Alumni).
Jamil Wilson was a Clipper for 15 games in 2017-18 as a two-way player. He was waived in January because the Clippers had an insane amount of injuries and needed a guard in the worst way. Even though he only had a cup of coffee in the NBA, he was an excellent shooter and a smart defender who might have stuck in a different situation.
Wilson is on the Golden Eagles, the Marquette Alumni team, who lost in the TBT championship game in 2019. This is Wilson’s second appearance with the Golden Eagles, his first coming in 2018.
Willie Reed signed with the Clippers in the 2017 offseason and played 39 games for the team before being sent to Detroit as part of the Blake Griffin trade. He even started for five games when DeAndre Jordan was hurt, but it was clear that Montrezl Harrell was a better backup center, and Reed’s NBA career ended after that season.
Reed is on The Money Team, the spiritual descendent of Team Fredette (in honor of former NBA-er Jimmer Fredette), now sponsored by Floyd Mayweather.
The Clippers traded for the rights to Branden Dawson on the night of the 2016 Draft. He didn’t really have an offensive game (that jumper, yikes), but he was supposed to have defensive potential. Suffice to say, it didn’t really work out for Dawson. He’s on Team Heartfire, the no. 14 seed.
The best-named Clipper in recent history is on team Sideline Cancer, the no. 22 seed. With all due respect to Diamond Stone, however, who at least made the NBA for seven games, his Clippers career was exceedingly unmemorable. If it weren’t for his incredibly name, the former Maryland big would surely be forgotten to history. At least he made all four of his free throws in a Clipper uniform.
The final former Clipper in TBT is Courtney Fortson. Fortson had a 10-game NBA career in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, and played four of those contests with the Clippers. He played 46 minutes total and had 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 turnovers before moving on to Houston and eventually overseas, where he carved out a nice career in China.
Fortson is playing for Armored Athlete, whose claim to fame is that Malcolm Miller played for the team before earning a contract with the Toronto Raptors and then winning a title in 2019.
If you missed the single-elimination madness of the NCAA Tournament (or like me, only really recognize college players from over a decade ago), TBT is tremendous fun. It also was an early adopter of the Elam Ending, which Clipper fans got to witness in all its glory in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.
This is a far cry from NBA basketball, but it’s a fun way to pass the time.