Miami, FL

Here It Is, the First-Ever Bitcoin Basketball Tournament

Isaiah McCall
Pulling up for the jumperCanva

When I was a kid there was only one thing that got us off the streets and busy doing something productive: basketball. Basketball created friendships, gave you a sense of purpose and turned you into a fierce competitor. 

Basketball helped turn boys into men.

And as the wise old saying goes, “history doesn’t repeat, it rhymes,” because bitcoin leveled me up as a man in regards to personal finance the same way basketball did in terms of my competitiveness. 

Bitcoin helped me understand concepts like inflation and why your money needs to beat monetary base expansion; or how you’re always in danger of losing your purchasing power, or the corrupt little-known concept of fractional reserve banking.

Bitcoin was the basketball I needed for adulthood, and now non-profit basketball tournament organizer Yusuf Ali has built a bridge between both. This summer he debuts the Bitcoin Classic, a series of basketball tourneys with a grand prize the first of $25,000 in bitcoin.

Bitcoin bails out middle class and poorer communities most

The biggest tournament kicks off June 5 in Miami, FL, and will feature five on competitive action. Entry fees are $3,500, so players are bringing their absolute A-game. That means monster dunks and Jimmer Fredette-type threes.

Just in time for Space Jam 2

Meanwhile, an intermission will be hosted by Isaiah Jackson, the author of “Bitcoin & Black America,” where the crypto enthusiast will better explain the concept of blockchain and cryptocurrency. 

“For the first time in history, we have a Plan B option to the current financial system which has seen years of redlining, racial discrimination and other egregious acts by retail banks to the Black community, and in my opinion, the Black community has the opportunity to shift our mindset and our money,” Jackson told CNBC reporters. 

While a bitcoin payout might sound genius to some, Yusuf tells me it’s not easy to convince some of the players to hold onto their winnings.

“The players are still skeptical,” Yusuf said. “Some of the players are interested in all this, but others are like, ‘well, can I convert it to cash like I’m winning.’ I’m like you can if you want…”

Yusuf’s partner Jules Hirschkorn added, “In 10 years, maybe five years, everyone will play in tournaments like this. Crypto will be so prolific and so desirable. Right now, however, this is a struggle — it’s like we’re swimming upstream.”

Mainstream adoption and NBA hype

Bitcoin and the second-leading cryptocurrency Ethereum have made a splash in the mainstream this year, especially in the NBA.

Years ago the Sacramento Kings owner was the first to announce they would accept bitcoin in exchange for team merchandise or tickets, and more recently the franchise will offer a salary option in bitcoin. 

In 2019, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban also began accepting bitcoin as a payment method. As of last month, the Mavs also accept dogecoin.

Now NBA players all over the world like Spencer Dinwiddie, Damian Lillard, Mike Conley, and Shaq, among others, are all involved in either bitcoin or Ethereum’s NFTs. This mainstream adoption is why I believe Yusuf is at the forefront of innovating in street basketball. 

Purchase tickets here or watch the live stream on June 5. 

“The players are open to this, but the info sessions are really going to piece everything together,” Yusuf said. “We’re just trying to get players a little more open-minded and get them not to convert their winnings to cash, but instead say, ‘Let me hold this for a little.”

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USA Today Reporter and Ultramarathoner. I write about Cryptocurrency, Fitness Hacks, and Greek Philosophy. Also a diehard Trekkie |

Jersey City, NJ

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