After seven months of tough competitions across the country, the Red Bull Midnight Run, a street ball tournament aimed at determining which city has the best ball players, came to a dramatic conclusion Friday evening at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
The Midnight Run, which held its Philadelphia-based qualifying round at Girard College back in July, brought together teams of eight elite ballers from Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis, to battle for the title of ‘Most Talented Basketball City.’ The teams were comprised of D-Leaguers, street ballers, former college standouts, overseas players, and others.
Each team was out to prove that their city is the most skilled, and the players found a lot of pride in representing their city on a larger scale. There was no money on the line, just bragging rights, and the ability to represent your city.
“I always represent my city, my block, where I’m from,” former WVU guard and Philadelphia run representative Jarett Kearse told me over the phone prior to the event.
“To be able to do it as a whole for my city is a big accomplishment.”
Former MSVU guard and fellow Philly Run representative Kevin Burwell agreed with the sentiment.
“It means a lot to represent Philadelphia,” he stated. “The city has been good to me basketball-wise, and I want to give back, along with showcasing my talent on a big stage.”
The stage was pretty big indeed, as the event’s final four took place directly after the conclusion of the Nets’ dramatic overtime victory over the Heat, providing the Red Bull Run players the unique experience of playing on the same court directly after some of the world’s best ballers.
The court had barely been cleared of post-game processes when the Red Bull ballers were up and ready to run.
“I didn’t even know we were playing after [Heat/Nets] until a couple days ago when my agent told me,” Burwell stated enthusiastically a couple days before the event.
“Playing after LeBron and all them is a humbling experience,” Kearse added, obviously appreciative of the opportunity.
When I asked Kearse prior to the event what characteristics of Philadelphia-style street ball may help give them an advantage over other cities he mentioned “heart, pride, and toughness;” all characteristics of the city at large.
“Philadelphia is a guard city,” Philly guard Tyrone Hill explained, “but one thing we all have in common, regardless of height, is heart.”
As Friday turned into Saturday inside Brooklyn’s Barclays, Philadelphia fell in the Final Four to eventual-champion Indianapolis, and had to watch as New York City and Indianapolis battled for the tag of most talented. The championship game was well-contested and featured about a dozen lead changes, with “The Nap” pulling it out in the end, 43-41.
“There was a sense that the stakes were higher in the final game,” Indianapolis guard Devin Williams stated.
“This is the big city and the bright lights. This is the ultimate stage. Representing your hometown and winning at this venue and in this setting is the way it’s supposed to be,” added Indianapolis guard John Harp.
While only Indianapolis took the title of most talented, The Red Bull Midnight Run was a victory for the sport and all of the participating cities, as it provided a plethora of talented players an excellent opportunity to both entertain and showcase their skill. In a sport where athletes are so often motivated by money, it was nice to see guys playing for pride.
As for being the ‘Most Talented Basketball City”, Indianapolis can enjoy the honor for now, but it is safe to say that Philadelphia, and some other cities, are going to have something to say about that come next summer.