2024 Phoenix Men’s Final Four Fan Jam takes off with slam dunk start

Arizona State basketball coach Bobby Hurley completes a two-handed dunk Wednesday to kickstart the 2024 Phoenix Men’s Final Four Fan Jam. (Photo by Griffin Greenberg/Cronkite News)

ay Parry, CEO of the 2024 Men’s Final Four Host Committee, calls the Fan Jam a year-long celebration of basketball that aims to engage Arizona residents and spread awareness about the upcoming tournament. (Photo by Griffin Greenberg/Cronkite News)

Fans of all ages have the chance to show off their best dunks, shooting skills and get up close and personal with the 2024 NCAA Men’s National Championship trophy at the Fan Jam. (Photo by Griffin Greenberg/Cronkite News)

TEMPE – Early Wednesday morning, Arizona State men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley slightly charged toward a makeshift hoop and slammed in a two-handed dunk to set off the ceremonial first successful basket of the 2024 Phoenix Men’s Final Four Fan Jam.

There is hope the Final Four kickoff event will be another slam dunk following the massive success of the 2017 Final Four, with this fan experience serving as the catalyst.

As Phoenix inches closer to its second Final Four in the Valley, the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee unveiled plans Wednesday to disperse free mobile pop-up events across the city leading up to April 6 and 8, when the 2024 Men’s Final Four tips off. The PLOC is the non-profit organization hosting the Men’s Final Four when it returns to State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

In 2017, when Arizona hosted the second-largest attended Final Four event in history, the NCAA partnered with the PLOC to renovate indoor and outdoor courts at Harmon Park in downtown Phoenix. The plan for this year’s slate of community events includes mobile trucks with basketball hoops attached to the sides, allowing fans to practice their jump shots to score free giveaways.

There will be activities for all ages, including opportunities to take a selfie with the 2024 NCAA Men’s National Championship trophy or sit on a bean bag and read at the reading station. Special guests will also be in attendance.

“The men’s Final Four is a year-long celebration of basketball, and the Fan Jam is a great way … for us to engage Arizona residents and give them a taste of this terrific event,” said Jay Parry, CEO of the Men’s Final Four Host Committee.

Hurley hopes these events could serve as a pathway to get more people engaged with the event.

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“It’s great that people know that the events coming and have awareness to it and, hopefully, get behind it and want to go to the Fan Fest, want to try to get in that arena and see a Final Four,” Hurley said. “It’s pretty special.”

Last season, for the first time in two years, both ASU and the University of Arizona competed in the men’s NCAA tournament. Hurley’s brother, Dan Hurley, won the 2023 national title after UConn defeated San Diego State in Houston, Texas.

This season, Hurley is adding fuel to his motivational speeches to the team; he said he told his squad to take care of their business, and they could play a Final Four home game.

Gavitt said the event returned to Arizona for the second time in eight years because of its monumental success in 2017. The plan is to maximize Arizona’s breezy weather in April and induce “fan activation” before anyone enters an arena by dispersing “dozens and dozens” of mobile Fan Jam trucks across schools, youth, community and marquee events.

Gavitt said they assess after each Final Four has concluded and noted there’s a “very good chance” that more Final Four events return to Arizona, adding they will be “anxious” to come back on a regular basis.

As for now, fans can find the nearest Fan Jam truck and gear up for the upcoming college basketball season as it invades the Valley once again.

“Over the next eight months, the Fan Jam will be a reminder that the 2024 Men’s Final Four is coming,” Gavitt said. “But after the tournament is over, we’re committed to leaving a legacy of community engagement in Final Four cities that extends far beyond the championship weekend.”

Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Alfred Smith III expects to graduate in June 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Smith III is a sports editor at ASU’s student-led newspaper, The State Press.

Griffin Greenberg(he/him/his)
Sports Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Griffin Greenberg is graduating in December 2023 with a bachelor’s in sports journalism and a minor in business. Greenberg has worked with AZ Compass Prep School, outlets such as StrictlyBBall and The Circuit, and players at the elite high school hoops level.