Basketball players pursue new path to NBA

In transforming from a theoretical league to proof-of-concept, OTE has become one of American sports’ most closely watched experiments.

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Sports

May 20, 2022 - 5:17 PM

Amen, left, and Ausar Thompson are among the crop of basketball players following the Overtime Elite (OTE) League with their hopes of reaching the NBA. SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL/MICHAEL LAUGHLIN/TNS

LOS ANGELES — The most interesting basketball game in Atlanta on a Friday night in March wasn’t the one played in the city’s downtown NBA arena. It was happening three miles north, between six-figure-earning teenagers in a gym that opened only seven months earlier as part of a league that didn’t exist one year before and whose primary audience couldn’t watch the action unfold live.

Tipoff of the second game of a playoff series to determine the inaugural champion of Overtime Elite, a three-team league featuring some of the country’s top players from ages 16 to 18, was still hours away when Ausar Thompson stopped by an always open snack bar on the first floor of the league’s headquarters.

Emerging from his team’s shoot-around, he grabbed a bowl of proteins and grains on his way to rest and prepare in the league-provided apartment he shared with his identical twin, Amen, and another league player in the upscale Atlantic Station neighborhood nearby.

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