This archived article was written by: Jeremy Jones
If you’ve ever thought that it would be really cool to combine the hard hits of football, the high-flying dunks of basketball and the cocky attitudes of all athletics, this is the game for you.
The concept behind SlamBall is fairly simple. Full contact basketball 15 feet in the air. To get that kind of elevation, four trampolines are built into the floor around the basket. The offensive players, called gunners, use the trampolines to attack the basket and perform electrifying dunks that Vince Carter would be envious of.
But, standing in the way of the gunners are the stoppers. These players are used primarily for defensive purposes, although they can score, too.
The stoppers start underneath the basket and also jump off the trampolines to literally stop the gunners in their tracks. Full contact is allowed in the air, so anything goes once both players are up there.
Full contact is also allowed as players are dribbling the ball off of the trampolines on the court. Like in hockey, if one player has the ball and another player wants it, knocking the first guy over is the most efficient way to steal the ball.
Contact is not allowed, however, if a player is about to jump onto the trampoline initially. This is a foul and creates one of the most exciting features of SlamBall; the face off.
In a face off, the player that committed the foul goes on defense and the player that was fouled has the ball. The offensive player can start whenever he wants and wherever he wants. He gets a run-up and tries to dunk the ball. The player that committed the foul becomes the stopper and tries to deny the dunk.
Consistently, a huge dunk or monstrous block results from a face off, and either way, it’s a spectacle to be seen.
Currently, SlamBall is entirely Los Angeles based, but they have plans to expand across the country as the gam’s popularity continues to grow.
SlamBall was originally created by Mason Gordon, a 28-year-old Los Angeles, CA resident. In the mid 1990s, Gordon came up with an idea of making a sport that combined the energy of video games with the fearlessness of extreme sports athletes.
Gordon teamed up with television producer Mike Tollin in 1998 to fully shape the game and make it more than just a cool idea. Gordon recruited five players initially and built a half-court to try it out.
Word of mouth traveled through Los Angeles and local crowds grew at every game. Eventually, Gordon and Tollin compiled a 90-second highlight tape of SlamBall and sent it to the New TNN’s president, Albie Hecht. After just one meeting with Gordon and Tollin, Hecht signed them a contract to show SlamBall on TNN starting in 2002.
The first season, despite only being six weeks long, was a roaring success and the TV ratings grew with each game played. For SlamBall’s second season, two more teams were added, making eight total in the league. Each team is composed of eight players, four of which play at a time.
Players for the league were compiled from a nationwide tryout conducted by Gordon. The tryout had two phases. The first one was Gordon and a few of the SlamBall coaches went to various cities around the country and held the initial tryout. The most impressive athletes were given an invitation to go to LA for the final tryout. After all of the initial tryouts were done, all of the best assembled in LA and took to the tramps. At the end of the final tryout, a draft was held and each coach picked his team.
Some key players to watch during this season are:
Stan “Shakes” Fletcher. This guy uses the trampolines as easily as most people use shoes. He reaches incredible heights and is always coming up with something new. Even though his team, the Steal, is a dismal 1-4 to start the season, Fletcher is always a crowd favorite around the league.
Anthony White. He’s called “The Thoroughbred” because this guy does it all. White plays stopper for the 2-2 Diablos, but is also consistently the team’s high scorer. SlamBall’s creator Mason Gordon plays handler (sort of like a point guard) for the Diablos as well.
Sean Jackson. Known as “Inches” because he’s only 5’10”, Jackson is a dominant offensive player, despite his size. He is the Mob’s starting handler and gives an added dimension to the offense because he can both score and set up his teammates for the spectacular dunk.
Dion “Big Duke Nasty” Mays. Mays is known to be one of, if not the most, dominating defender in the game. At 6’7″ and 230 pounds, Mays can absorb a lot of contact in the air and still be able to make outstanding defensive plays. Mays is one of the big reasons that the Rumble have a perfect season in the making. So far, the Rumble is an undefeated 5-0.
New episodes of SlamBall are shown on SpikeTV (formerly TNN) every Monday night. Rerun games are shown Saturday and Sunday evenings. SlamBall continues to grow in popularity and continues to reach new heights, literally.