Better Know A Fringe Sport: Slamball

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if they let the Nuggets mascot take off his costume? Wait, that didn't sound right.

During the summer months college sports are practically non-existent, and since new Longhorns content is hard to come by I've been given the green light to do a series of articles on sports that may not be familiar to regular BC readers. In this edition we take a look at Slamball.

A little over a decade ago, Slamball was invented in what I'd like to pretend was a haze of cheap beer & 'White Men Can't Jump' reruns. A guy named Mason Gordon - how there's not a statue of him at this point is beyond me - decided that the only thing missing from basketball was a series of trampolines. And NHL-level collisions. And a different scoring & fouling system...I probably should explain the rules.

The Rules

Slamball has some fairly straightforward rules if you're familiar with basketball; it's a 4 on 4 competition where dunks are 3 points & everything else inside the 3-point line(which is basically outside the trampolines) is 2 points. If a guy tries to score by jumping from a trampoline, goaltending is not only allowed but actively encouraged. The substitutions happen like hockey subs, you go in & out during the game rather than only at dead balls(which don't happen as often as standard basketball thanks to the hockey rink-style setup). You're also allowed to knock a guy to the ground as long as you don't hit him from behind or as they're jumping into the trampolines. Oh, and each guy gets 3 fouls instead of 6, but there aren't free throws. Instead, they have a 'face-off', where the guy who was fouled gets a running headstart to try to score on the guy who fouled him. The results are pretty great; I'll put up one where the offensive guy wins & another where the defensive guy wins:

Basically this game is what would happen if a basketball fan, hockey fan, and gymnastics fan got into an argument at a bar over who would be the best real-life NBA Jam player of all-time. It's acrobatic, exciting, and also dumb in the most glorious possible way. This seems like it would be a blast to play, and also the easiest way to tear every ligament in my body. I think about these things now that I'm getting older; if I was 18, I would've already bought elbow pads and started driving to China to try out. Related: 18 year-old me was terrible at geography.

The Positions

There's 3 positions in Slamball: Handler, Gunner, & Stopper. You can have as many of each as you like on the court at any given time, but generally the teams put a Handler, 2 Gunners, and a Stopper on the court together. Handler is basically a point guard; he distributes the ball & facilitates the scoring. Sometimes he scores as well, but his primary role is to get the ball to the gunners in the best spot possible. Gunners are the scorers; they're the highest-flying players on the court, and they make up 85% of the highlight reels you see on Youtube. The best Gunner of all-time is probably Stan Fletcher, and if you think I mentioned him as an excuse to post another video, you know me too well.

The other position is the Stopper, which is really a polite way of describing a position where they're allowed to maul guys on trampolines at will. These are the biggest dudes on the court and when played properly, it's essentially like playing swimming pool basketball against your older brother who hit puberty 2 years early.

I've now watched approximately 193 hours of Slamball highlights and all I can think is how awesome it would be to get Steve Nash, Charles Barkley, Vince Carter, and Hot Sauce(of And1 fame) in their primes on the same Slamball team.

I Don't Know Where to Put This, But it Needs to Be Seen

Gus Johnson calling Slamball? GUS JOHNSON CALLING SLAMBALL.

Where You Can See Slamball

The Internet, maybe? The creator - Mason Gordon - had a TV deal in 2008 and it's shown up intermittently on SpikeTV, CBS, and a handful of other places over the years. Gordon keeps the Slamball Facebook page updated regularly and says it's not gone, but the last game I can find was in China in 2013(where the sport seems to be gaining some traction). The Slamball FB account posted a video on Vimeo of one of their China games(the password to watch is 'luckylongone', which they posted in the FB comments) so you can see some in-game footage for yourself. The future of the league seems shaky, if it doesn't make a dent in China then it might be the last we'll see of the sport on a professional level.

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