Perth Wildcats legend Cal Bruton played a key role inspiring a generation of young Australian basketball players when he tore up the NBL during the halcyon days of the 1980s and 90s.
Now “The Black Pearl” is looking to inspire a fresh breed of young ballers with his exciting new Bruton 2-on-2 tournament.
Bruton devised a shortened form of basketball aimed at teaching players the fundamentals of the game.
“I thought it would be a great way to teach teamwork and work on fundamental things in life like knowing what it means to be unselfish and make sacrifices,” he said.
“Those sorts of things are what helped me develop my game and get to the point where I was able to earn a scholarship after making my high school team and find my way through to the professional arena.
“I credit a lot of that success to playing two-on-two.”
Bruton, who will attend tomorrow night’s NBL game between the Wildcats and New Zealand at Perth Arena, said partnerships a crucial element of any successful team.
The New Yorker teamed up with James Crawford – also known as the “Alabama Slammer” – to form one of the most potent combinations in NBL history.
“If you look at all the different teams over the years, there are partnerships that develop,” Bruton said.
“James Crawford and I in the early 80s, we used to just set people up. He could go to the bucket and I would throw it up in the air and know he was going to dunk it. Ricky Grace took that to another level.
“There’s always partnerships and once you learn to play with your partner, it becomes like a sixth sense where you just know where that person’s at offensively and defensively.
“They know if they get beat that you’re going to be there to help them out.”
The 2-on-2 tournament’s 12-minute games are divided into four short quarters, with a 14-second shot clock giving players a chance to work on both sides of the ball.
Four different age brackets cater for players from under-14s through to over-35s.
A bonus bucket quarter in which teams nominate a period for their three-point shots to count for five points really mixes things up.
But the biggest difference to the regular game is that there are no referees – defensive teams must call fouls on themselves.
“We’re really trying to bring out that element of sportsmanship and teach that in the games,” Bruton said.
“If you foul somebody, you should know it and you should admit to it.”
Registrations are still open at www.blackpearlbasketball.com for the 2-on-2 tournament, which will be held this weekend at Arena Joondalup.