Slam Dunk to the Beach is returning to the Cape Region. The Delaware Sports Commission has set up a press conference for Monday, Sept. 16, to officially announce the tournament's return.
Details of the once-popular and renowned tournament will be disclosed at 9:45 a.m. at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand. Sen. Tom Carper, Gov. Jack Markell, Economic Development Director Alan Levin and other officials are expected to be in attendance.
From 1990 to 2003, Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes hosted some of the nation’s premier high school basketball players, many of whom went on to have successful professional careers, including four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James of the Miami Heat and Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks.
Bob Fulton, superintendent of the Cape Henlopen School District, said the plan is to bring the tournament back to the high school. He informed the school board Sept. 12 of the Delaware Sports Commission's intentions to utilize the district's facilities once again.
"It would be great to showcase our new high school to the great talent in not only our state but the whole country," he said. "It will bring a lot of business into our community, and it's something we're looking forward to again."
The tournament was an economic boost to the Cape Region. In the later years of the event, it was estimated that at least $3 million was poured into the local economy the last week of December as a result of the tournament.
After the tournament folded, the short-lived Bay Ball Classic filled the void from 2005-07. That event also drew big names, including now-NBA all-star Blake Griffin.
The Delaware Sports Commission is a nonprofit organization with a mission to attract regional and national sporting events to Delaware as a way of enhancing economic development and promoting the state as a sports destination.
Rise and fall of Slam Dunk
The tournament was founded in 1990 by Robert “Bobby” Jacobs and quickly grew into one of the nation's top high school basketball tournaments. More than 35 athletes who played in the event went on to compete at the highest level in the NBA.
Jacobs surprised most people when he folded the tournament in 2004 after a successful 14-year run. He cited health issues as the reason. However, it was later revealed Jacobs struggled to or often did not pay many people associated with the event.
In 2006, a state audit of tournament finances found Jacobs had mishandled tournament finances to the tune of more than $50,000. He was charged with theft and 12 counts of forgery. He eluded arrest for nearly a year before being caught by U.S. Marshals in Miami, Fla.
As a result of a plea bargain, Jacobs served eight months in prison with probation of a year and four months. He was also ordered to pay restitution of about $200,000 to several parties and state and county agencies.
Jacobs ran into more legal trouble in 2009, when he was charged with three counts of stalking. He was sentenced to two more years in prison.