This weekend the legendary Venice Basketball League (VBL) held the championship game of the VBL Playoffs on the historic main court at Venice Beach; but this game was not the only highlight of the day.
The VBL organized a multitude of events to celebrate the second annual Ron Beals Day. Beals, 81, is a legendary figure not only in Venice, but in basketball in general. He played a role in the historic movie “White Men Can’t Jump” and was one of the pioneers of the jump shot after beginning his basketball career in 1960. After 45 years of playing at the Venice basketball courts, he had gained the respect of basketball players from all over the world and his impact on the culture of the game has transcended generations, inevitably leading to induction into the Venice Beach Hall of Fame.
Beals grew up playing against other basketball legends such as Sweet Water Clifton and Wilt Chamberlain, and even toured the world playing with a basketball group known as the Harlem Clowns. When Beals showed up to the courts on Sunday, he received a standing ovation from all in attendance. Spectators flocked to him just to receive a handshake and to tell him how much they appreciate him and what he’s done for the game. It was beautiful to see people of all walks of life appreciate this man for what he’s done for the sport, the art of basketball.
The festivities began at 9 a.m. continued throughout the day. Jump-starting the event were three Kids Venice Basketball League (KVBL) games, followed by the Battle of the Legends game, where players age 50 and up came to showcase their skills. There was also a fashion show followed by a bikini basketball game and a performance from the Demolition Crew, a krump dance group based in Inglewood.
A celebrity game was also held, allowing for popular, as well as up-and-coming basketball players to make an appearance and showcase their abilities on the courts in a friendly game. “This is great for the community,” said Nick Ansom, president and founder of the VBL. “It’s always amazing when we can get the community together like this, especially to celebrate a day like today: Ron Beals Day! It’s great to see all the men and women and kids coming out to support not only the VBL but the KVBL as well. It has a very big positive effect on the community. This has been going on for years and we all want to keep it going.”
The VBL championship game was probably one of the biggest draws of the entire day—along with the dunk contest at the end of the celebration—as hundreds of people gathered around the main court to watch the undefeated team Brand Black square off against the challengers Hall of Fame. The two teams were neck and neck almost the entire game, but Brand Black proved to have the clutch factor when it came to the final few seconds, winning the trophy and solidifying a successful undefeated season.
What’s next for the VBL? The league is planning to hold their annual VBL World Tournament during the first few weeks of September. Teams from near and far come to compete for a chance to win the trophy and the rights to call themselves world champions. More information can be found on the VBL website www.veniceball.com and on their Instagram page @veniceball.