• Rodman, streetballers to put on show

  • The NBA’s most infamous bad boy is coming to Independence.

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  • The NBA’s most infamous bad boy is coming to Independence.
    At 7 p.m. Saturday, NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman will be on the sidelines coaching a team of Kansas City-area basketball players as the “Ball Up Search for the Next” tour starts its 2013-14 season at the Independence Events Center.
    The KC team will be selected Saturday morning after an open-run competition at Weltner Park in Prairie Village, Kan., and will take on the Ball Up streetball team, which will be coached by former NBA point guard Rafer Alston.
    “This is probably the most exciting form of basketball you can see,” Ball UP CEO Demetrius Spencer said. “It’s basketball in its rarest form. It’s a very fast-paced game with a lot of one-on-one moves, lots of dunks. The players won’t be constrained by playing a certain style and can showcase their ability to play pure basketball.
    “It’s probably the most exciting two hours of basketball you can watch.”
    The game will be taped and air in the fall on Fox Sports 1. At the end of the contest, Rodman and Alston will choose two MVPs from the KC team who will then be invited to the Ball Up training camp and have the chance to win a Ball Up professional contract.
    Rodman, who gained notoriety throughout his career for his flamboyant lifestyle and colorful hair styles and tattoos while winning three NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls from 1996 to 1998, will likely be available for autographs before the game and possibly after, Spencer said. Spencer said fans should arrive as early as possible – the doors open at 5:30 p.m. – if they want a more personal encounter with Rodman.
    “He’s a very friendly guy and will speak to everybody,” Spencer said. “He’ll meet and great everyone. That’s what’s really cool about the event, people don’t feel removed from the game but feel totally part of it.”
    The game will also feature several players on the Ball Up squad who gained fame during the And1 Mixtape Tour like Grayson Boucher (“Professor”), Larry Williams (“Bone Collector”) and Aaron Owens (“AO”).
    “Fans will be able to see some of the best entertainers, the best dribblers, the best high jumpers they’ve ever seen in their life,” said Robin Kennedy, a Ball Up player who goes by the nickname “Sik Wit It.” “Basically, this is the best streetball team that didn’t make it to the NBA. We’re all about high-flying excitement.”
    The Ball Up tour isn’t your traditional kind of basketball. The players’ No. 1 priority is to entertain, so expect plenty of plays for the highlight reel.
    But Kennedy adds that just because his team is trying to put on a show doesn’t mean the game will lack competitiveness.
    Page 2 of 2 - “What separates the Ball Up team from a lot of other teams is that not only do we have to play basketball, not only do we have to dunk and dribble and entertain, but we have to do all those things and still try to win,” Kennedy said. “It’s difficult to do because fans are not coming out to see regular basketball. They’re coming out to be entertained.”
    Tickets for the event start at $25 and are on sale from noon to 5 p.m. at the Silverstein Eye Centers box office at the Events Center, all Ticketmaster outlets and Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
    Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC

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