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Red Bull North America, USA Basketball announce multiyear partnership

Over a century after hoops first appeared on the international stage in St. Louis, Mo., 3x3 basketball will be featured at the Olympics for the first time in event history at the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

Jake Winderman

The game of basketball has been played at the Summer Olympics since 1936, with it first appearing as a “demonstration event” at the 1904 Summer Olympics. Over a century after hoops first appeared on the international stage in St. Louis, Mo., 3×3 basketball will be featured at the Olympics for the first time in event history at the 2020 Olympics in Japan.

On May 2, USA Basketball announced a multiyear partnership with Red Bull North America to build an elite pathway for men’s and women’s players who have a goal of competing at the highest levels of 3×3 basketball. Through this partnership, Red Bull will host 23 qualifying tournaments across the country under the newly created Red Bull 3X series to identify the eight athletes who could potentially represent USA Basketball at the 2020 Olympics.

The winning teams at these qualifiers will compete to accumulate enough individual FIBA points with the goal of moving on to the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Regionals in the Fall of 2019, and then to the Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals in March 2020, which will be used to select the USA men’s and women’s 3×3 national teams.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement because it creates an opportunity for an athlete that may not have been thinking that this is a pathway for them,” said Jim Tooley, CEO of USA Basketball. “It opens up a door to a whole new generation of players that have an opportunity to wear U.S.A. across their chest and be a part of the Olympic games.”

The rules and regulations of 3×3 basketball are different than the laws that international 5×5 teams adhere to. The Red Bull 3X qualifiers, Red Bull USA Basketball 3X Nationals and the 2020 Summer Olympics 3×3 competition will be played on a half court with a 10-minute game clock and 12-second shot clock, where the winner is first team to 21 points or the team in the lead at the end of the 10-minute regulation.

Chris Mullin, a member of the 1992 USA Basketball “Dream Team” and a 5-time NBA All-Star, is an ambassador for the sport of 3×3 basketball and USA Basketball. The style of 3×3 basketball and pace-of-play heavily intrigues the former Golden State Warrior and Indiana Pacer.

This game here is fast-paced, up-tempo and probably more skill-based. There are different ways you can strategically approach it, but I think the level-playing field will appeal to so many more people,” Mullin said. “If you played basketball at some point, every coach used 3×3 as a teaching tool for conditioning or for skill development. 3×3 is the purest form of basketball.”

Along with the chance to become the first crop of athletes to ever play 3×3 basketball at the Olympic stage, USA Basketball participants will have the opportunity to represent their country at the international stage; something Chris Mullin said has never lost its effect on him.

“I go back to 1981 with my U.S.A. basketball experience and I have vivid memories of every experience, whether it was my coaches, my teammates or the places that they brought me all over the world,” Mullin said. “The biggest impact in my basketball career has been through USA Basketball. Playing on your college team is great, playing on your NBA team is great, but USA Basketball is always a different experience. You’re playing with different players in different countries and different coaches. To go through opening ceremonies, represent your country and potentially win a gold medal is pretty awesome.”

Along with Red Bull’s impact on the qualifiers themselves, Red Bull Media House, an award-winning media company, will create original storytelling with USA Basketball to shine a light on the 3×3 game, qualifiers and players, and celebrate the journey as the sport makes its debut at the Olympics.

“Storytelling is a big part of this process,” Tooley said. “I think it’s important to make the public aware of this, more importantly the players, so that we can have a larger pool in helping us qualify for the Olympics. The qualifiers and the platform that Red Bull is providing here just amplifies the opportunity for each of these players and I think there’ll be some amazing stories that come out of this whole journey.”

The first-ever Red Bull 3X qualifier will take place in Detroit, Michigan on June 22, 2019. For more information and registration information for players, visit redbull.com/3X.

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2019 Red Bull 3X Qualifier Schedule (subject to change)

Detroit, MI: June 22

Washington, DC: June 29

Atlanta, GA: June 29

Brooklyn, NY: July 13

Minneapolis, MN: July 13

Los Angeles, CA: July 20

New Orleans, LA: July 20

Philadelphia, PA: July 27

Denver, CO: July 27

Milwaukee, WI: August 3

Oakland, CA: August 3

Chicago, IL: August 17

Houston, TX: August 17

Cleveland, OH: August 24

Raleigh, NC: August 24

Dallas, TX: August 31

Boston, MA: September 7

Memphis, TN: September 7

San Antonio, TX: September 14

Phoenix, AZ: Date TBD

Salt Lake City, UT: Date TBD

Portland, OR: Date TBD

Seattle, WA: Date TBD

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