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Players with Chicago ties highlight The Basketball Tournament’s final rounds at Wintrust Arena

Keifer Sykes and Quincy Miller (Loyalty Is Love), Jerome Randle, Pat Miller and Osiris Eldridge (Eberlein Drive) and Jeremy Pargo (Overseas Elite) are among the players from Chicago who will be participating. 

Former Nuggets forward Quincy Miller, driving against Warriors star Stephen Curry in 2014, plays for Loyalty Is Love in The Basketball Tournament.
Former Nuggets forward Quincy Miller, driving against Warriors star Stephen Curry in 2014, plays for Loyalty Is Love in The Basketball Tournament.
Ben Margot/AP Photos

For the first time in its six-year history, the winner of The Basketball Tournament will be crowned in Chicago.

The tournament’s last three rounds will be played at Wintrust Arena after 64 teams competed in regional games throughout the country.

Overseas Elite, The Basketball Tournament’s four-time champion and the winner of $7 million through the last four tournaments, will be looking to claim its fifth consecutive title.

Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State alumni), Golden Eagles (Marquette alumni), Loyalty Is Love, Team Hines, Eberlein Drive, Team Brotherly and Jackson TN Underdawgs are the other teams in the tourney.

The quarterfinals will start Thursday, the semifinals are Sunday and the $2 million championship game will be Tuesday.

Jon Mugar, founder of The Basketball Tournament, said Chicago’s basketball culture made the city a great place to host the end of the tournament.

“We found that there’s a great basketball fan market there with a lot of graduates from schools that we get to participate in the tournament,” Mugar said in a phone interview with the Sun-Times. “A lot of our players had ties to Chicago already. Sure enough, this final group of eight happens to be very tied into Chicago.”

Keifer Sykes and Quincy Miller (Loyalty Is Love), Jerome Randle, Pat Miller and Osiris Eldridge (Eberlein Drive) and Jeremy Pargo (Overseas Elite) are among the players from Chicago who’ll be participating.

Mugar said the idea for The Basketball Tournament started as a text-message chain with his friends in 2010. They wondered what would happen if someone put on an open basketball tournament for “an enormous amount of money” and the caliber of players they could get to join the league.

“We always kind of go back and forth with different ideas for how sports models could change,” Mugar said. “This was one of those ideas I just couldn’t shake after the initial conversation. It became an obsession as far as how to pull it off and make it work.”

For the next four months, Mugar said he worked on a four-page document detailing the format of the tournament. Mugar took the document to anyone he could for the next two years but wasn’t able to gain traction.

He and his friends raised money to host the first annual tournament in 2014 with 32 teams playing in a $500,000 winner-take-all format.

“The level of play was way higher than I thought it would be, and immediately we caught the attention of ESPN,” Mugar said. “The deal with ESPN enabled us to continue to grow and to get to the point now where we have 24 games on TV and so many unbelievable players playing.”

Mugar said the tournament’s emphasis on winning helped them carve out a niche.

“We’re, unabashedly, the most intense, team-oriented and highest-stakes format in the world,” Mugar said. “We only reward team achievement. We’re the highest stakes of basketball in the world.”