clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

We’ll talk about this later: The Fyre Festival of basketball tournaments

Your dose of lighthearted takes from last week.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Syndication: The Herald-Times Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Each week, we’ll break down something that happened during the Ohio State game (and occasionally other games) that we’ll be talking about for a while—you know, the silly sideline interactions, the awful announcing and the weird storylines that stick with us for years to come. We’ll also compare each of these happenings to memorable moments in pop culture, because who doesn’t love a good Office reference?

If your favorite basketball team went to something called the “Las Vegas Invitational” featuring elite women’s hoops programs from across the country, you might expect a little glitz and glamour that comes with hosting an event in such a city. You might even envision, in this era of sports betting and NIL, some sort of promotions around the players present at the tournament. In a year when the Las Vegas Aces won their first WNBA title, you’d also expect that there would be some pageantry associated with this historic event.

At a minimum, you would expect the barebones required to play a basketball game: a court, a scorer’s table, a scoreboard and a ball. And probably that it would take place in a room built for a sporting event.

Well, they had a court, a scorer’s table, a scoreboard and a ball at the Las Vegas Invitational, a women’s basketball tournament featuring nine Division I women’s hoops teams over Thanksgiving weekend. But that was about it.

And it took place in a ballroom.

The photos are absurd. It looks like the organizers rapidly shifted from an orthopaedic surgery conference to a basketball tournament, complete with the never-show-dirt carpet and tray ceilings. It’s certainly not the arrangement one might expect for a team like Indiana, a top-5 ranked undefeated team which traveled across the country for this.

Organized by Bryce McKee, this was sold as a high-end event. McKee is a former women’s basketball assistant coach who was accused of making sexual advances toward multiple players. For a horrifying example of an assault on women in action, check out this article. It is terrible and beyond the scope of this piece, but had to be mentioned.

However, the event was poorly organized, had limited attendance for fans (because, again, it was a ballroom with two rows of folding chairs for seating) and even required players to bring their own towels.

With all the promises and absolute underwhelming results, the Las Vegas Invitational was the Fyre Festival of basketball tournaments. A classic example of over promise, under deliver.

As Thomas Costello and I discussed on the Play Like a Girl podcast last week, the tournament was a failure for other reasons that impacted player safety. At one point, Auburn Tigers forward Kharyssa Richardson was injured. The organizers took nearly 40 minutes to get her medical attention.

Indiana head coach Teri Moren did not mince words on what she thought of the tournament, so we’ll end with her thoughts: