Volume 96, Issue 2

Thursday, May 30, 2002
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London is "Hooptown North America"

Beware: Moronic babble below

Into the Raptors' den

The Mustangs in the Hall

Soccer fever is not just hittin' Japan...

London is "Hooptown North America"

Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

Clyde Adkin has tried the rest, but when it comes to hosting the three-on-three Gus Macker basketball tournament he knows what city does it best.

"We've tried it in Vancouver, Burlington and Windsor and it just doesn't go," said Adkin, London tournament organizer and Macker mainstay.

"If you want to run a Macker, what you need are the volunteers and the structure, and London [over the past ten years] has established that and it's very solid. When we move to another city, we realize it takes a lot of work and in terms of financial gain, you're going to lose," Adkin said.

©Niru Somayajula/Gazette

The Macker invaded Victoria Park this past weekend and once again was a stunning success - 1,217 teams competed, equating to 4,868 players and approximately $160,000 in team fees. The majority of the hoops fanatics came from Southwestern Ontario and Michigan.

Scott McNeal, the original "Gus Macker" in every sense of the name, began the tradition of round ball madness in 1974. McNeal gathered 18 of his friends and invited them over to his parents' driveway in Lowell, Michigan for a little street ball action.

The rest is history.

London consistently holds the Macker of all Mackers - the strongest tournament site (in numbers and profitability) of any in North America.

Why is London the "Mac Daddy" of the Macker?

Amy Crickard, former Eastern Michigan University women's basketball team forward and member of the Elite Women's team "Nothing But Net" summed up the allure of Victoria Park and the London Macker.

"I think London is one of the big basketball centres in Ontario, as well as in Canada," Crickard said. "There is a lot of schools and young people around here and basketball has just grown to be a big thing in London."

However, the bigger and broader issue at hand is not the allure of London, but the seemingly magnetic pull three-on-three tournaments have on the average baller.

Andrew Earnshaw, a Western computer science student and men's lacrosse player, said the Gus Macker has elements that appeal to every generation.

"Young or old, as well as skilled or recreational players - Macker satisfies all their needs," Earnshaw said. "Even lacrosse players who have no game can compete."

Unfortunately, sometimes the free reign of the street court creates problems, but Adkin said it's a blip on the radar.

"We do have problems [with physical confrontations], but if you put it into a bigger picture, there are thousands and thousands of games. You can't really dwell on one or two incidents. If it's a percentage, it's such a small one that it's not a major issue," Adkin said.

Crickard welcomes the added contact. "It does [get out of control] but they have to let us play or the games would last two hours," she said.

Hidden in the throngs of basketball players were some extremely well known ballers.

Titus Channer, a professional player in France was an attentive spectator, while highly recruited guard and incoming Western Mustang, Medway High's Kyle Coatsworth (left), lit up the nets on the men's main court.

London can hold their heads up high. We may not be the capital of Canada or even Ontario, but we're definitely the capital of the Macker.

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