The Titans go to great places. Last year they went to Las Vegas for a tournament and stayed at Caesars Palace. Troutt gave each family cash for a nice meal and a Vegas show. A lot of them saw C�line Dion. This summer the team is planning to play in Germany and Lithuania, and each player can bring a parent.
The Assault goes as far as the parents can drive. They flew one time to a tournament in Oregon. For nearly every kid on the team, it was his first time on a plane.
A lot of rival coaches and parents would like to dismember the Titans. They think Troutt is spoiling this team as well as the fourth-grade Titans. (He has a son on that team too.) They think 10 is too young to be living like an NBA star. They say Troutt unfairly attracts some of the most talented kids in Dallas with his money. But even rivals say that at least Troutt isn't trying to make money off his players' backs—the scourge of AAU ball—and his players are humble and well-behaved. "I'm not spoiling these kids," says Troutt, who co-owns 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide. "Any kid that's willing to practice six hours a week and travel three weekends out of four is working hard for what he gets." To which his critics say, "Sounds brutal. Where do we sign up?"
Powell isn't complaining. His kids are disciplined and well-coached. "Sure, we wish we had some of those things they have, but we believe that if you're not handed things, then you're hungrier and you play a little harder. When you're sharing a car for five or six hours, when you're sleeping in the same bed as your teammate, he's not your teammate any longer. He's your brother."
The Titans played the Assault four times last year. The Assault won all four.
If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.