What Ever Happened to SlamBall?

After a spirited game of beach volleyball this weekend, in between sips of beer, my friend Adam said “Do you remember that basketball game with the trampolines?”

Maybe it was because neither of us could jump particularly high, especially in the sand. Maybe it was because he had a few quick sips of beer. Maybe, he was truly reminiscing.

SlamBall, whether you remember it or not, was – and still is – a great game. The idea is that a 4-on-4 basketball game has trampolines on each end of the court and the game is considered full contact.

We want to know … how in the hell did this not catch on?

It has the effects of football – the No. 1 televised sport – the athleticism of basketball and the Oh My Goodness factor of “Did you see that?!” while high-fiving your friend with one hand while holding a beer in the other.

Again, we ask, how did SlamBall not catch on?

It is the real-life version of NBA Jam, the highly successful and entertaining video game of the 1990s that many people our age loved to play. In fact, the video game recently came out on the newest consoles and it still remains a great joy of Throwback Attack to have a few beers and catch “fire” with President Barack Obama. Or Sarah Palin. Depending on your views. (They are both available as players).

A generation of sports gamers loved NBA Jam, so how can SlamBall not be considered the fifth major American sport? (Sorry, soccer, golf and tennis, but we are playing the “typical” card here.)

Plus, the league had Rocket Ismail, Kenny Anderson and John Starks as coaches, along with the original Coach Carter. Not that the coach of such a sport influences the game, but how do you not want to watch Rocket Ismail try and coach?

What’s his advice? “Uhh, run really fast right here and try not to get hit.” How do you not watch just for those close-ups when his team gets owned?

I remember one weekend, happening across this game on TV and for the rest of the weekend, flipping channels trying to find out if it was on. Wikipedia, not the best of sources, says the last SlamBall league finished in 2009.

The SlamBall website doesn’t give the idea that the league has folded. However, when was the last time anyone had seen or heard of this game? How can you not root for a league that is so silly that some of the team names are “Mob,” “Hombres” and “Maulers”? That sounds like the name of the gangs that were not used in West Side Story.

The history of Slamball on YouTube aired on May 14, 2011 by ESPN. How in the world did ESPN do “30 for 30” and not do something more than a few minutes on SlamBall? If they can do a movie on “Four Days in October” why can’t they do something on SlamBall, which incorporates more than just one city, which is what ESPN is becoming? Oh, that’s right, because Bill Simmons had the 30 for 30 idea, so something on the Red Sox had to be there. Blech.

But we give ESPN credit for at least “producing” – or, rather, publishing – the above video on SlamBall.

Watch this ridiculous display just once, and trust us, you will be hooked. You will yearn for SlamBall. Maybe you won’t be asking for SlamBall fantasy leagues, but you will definitely want to raise a glass and laugh and scream and yell while watching it.


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