Volume 95, Issue 2

Thursday, May 31, 2001


Takin' it to the street

History of sport lands at UWO

An ode to the humble men and women in stripes

Takin' it to the street
Street ballers invade London blacktop

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

The Forest City was invaded by Allen Iverson blacktop wannabes this past weekend.

Hoopsters young and old, from throughout Ontario and across the border converged on Victoria Park to participate in the annual Gus Macker three-on-three basketball tournament. 

The Macker offers a brand of basketball completely opposite to the traditional formulaic team basketball. It's the arena where the shake-and-bake, killer crossover and no-look pass are relished, not despised as in the team game. It's the arena where trash talk is mastered and embarrassing an opponent is a worthy accomplishment. And there had better be no whining to the referees because if there's no blood, there's no foul.

The driveway court is the breeding ground where great players were made and the love for the game was developed. Rochelle Noble, a member of team "Kosarkaske Dive" said she enjoys the easy-going atmosphere of the weekend tourney.

"It deviates from the atmosphere of the indoor game," Noble said. "It's more fun because it lacks the extremely competitive nature."

Unfortunately, the heavens weren't looking down kindly on the Macker, as the entire weekend was bombarded by rain and cold weather. The 1,550 teams competing this year still maintained a competitive zeal, and Stephanie Noble, also a member of team "Kosarkaske Dive" and younger sibling of Rochelle said the weekend was well worth the entrance fee.

"The rain and cold weather definitely affected the enjoyment of the tournament, but by no means ruined it," Noble said. "The key is to get it off your mind and focus on the game just like you would with a hostile crowd."

The Macker originated in London in 1993 when 375 teams laced-up their sneakers. The tournament has exploded over the years with London holding the enviable position of being the only Macker site in Canada.

James Fournie/Gazette
UNFORTUNATELY, THE MIDGETS HAD TROUBLE REACHING THE TRASH CAN. Some unidentified basketball players were shot doing what they love at the Gus Macker three-on-three tournament this past weekend.

The tournament's official legacy goes back further, to 1974 when Scott McNeal organized a three-on-three concept in his own backyard court. Ever since, the style of play has flourished in the Macker and similar tournaments such as NBA Hoop-it-up and until recently, Streetball. 

These tournaments are frequented by players between the ages of seven to 56, divided into categories based on age, height and experience.

The reaction to the tournament wasn't all peaches-and-cream. Umar Chaudry, a member of team "Bombsquad," warned the tournament's competitive nature is getting out of control.

"Many people I have spoken to, as well as myself, notice that competitors have forgotten rules and the etiquette of the game," Chaudry said. "They're fighting for $10 trophies which I really don't think are worth it."

Chaudry, a veteran of these three-on-three tournies said he was even threatened with the wrath of an opponent's fists.

The most frightening prospect for Chaudry isn't the violence but the deterioration of the game. "The Streetball type game has contributed to the decline of the team game and shooting in general. And with the new Nike commercials, basketball players develop a one-on-one game, concentrating on fancy ball-handling instead of shooting and fundamentals."

Overall, the Gus Macker was once again a huge success, reaping in loads of profit for the tournament as well as the city itself.

With the growing numbers entering into the Macker it's obvious, when the game is tiring and the love is depleted, all you have to do is return to your roots.

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