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Mountain Home Magazine

Tournament a Trois

Jul 01, 2024 09:00AM ● By David Higgins

The Macker is basketball for the love of the game: no lawyers, no agents—just friendly competition and a tidy sum for charity. America’s biggest streetball tournament was founded by Scott McNeal (dubbed “Gus Macker” by his high school shop teacher) fifty years ago in his parents’ driveway in small-town Michigan, with eighteen friends competing for eighteen dollars. In 1987 it hit the road, and the Gus Macker All-World Tour had 10,400 participants over five cities. And though it now has indoor and outdoor tournaments in over seventy-five cities, including three events in upstate New York this season, it remains “a celebration of basketball, community, and the spirit of competition.” B-ball is the magnet, but it’s also a neighborhood festival, with balloons, hot dog carts, and family activities. If you love hoops, it’s like Christmas crossed with Mardi Gras.

This July 20 to 21 for the first time it’s coming to Corning, held in the parking lot of Corning Credit Union. A joint endeavor between the Gaffer District and Elmira Downtown Development, they are passing the tournament back and forth, with 2025 slated for Elmira.

The half-court, 3-on-3 format guarantees fast, fun games. The entry fees pay for referees and trophies and ensure just enough regimentation to make it all run smoothly. The tournament stresses inclusivity: Mackerites span all ages, sizes, and experience levels, from ten and under (with lowered baskets) to the Top Mens and Top Womens (the only ones which allow dunking). There’s even a bracket for those over forty. You’ll see a huge range of ability, but each competitor is united in giving it their all. Last-place finishers are awarded the lightly coveted “Toilet Bowl” trophy (exactly that: a miniature potty), but it’s all in good clean fun. And in the Top finals, the serious ballers will vie for the sweetest possible prize: bragging rights. Expect to see some intense, high-octane hoops.

John Abercrombie and his team won in the over forty division in Ithaca last year. A member of the Corning-Painted Post Hall of Fame for basketball (2008), John has played in over 100 tournaments and is an emphatic Gus fan. He says, “of all the 3-on-3 I’ve played in, the Gus Macker is by far the best. They are organized, professional, and just make it an enjoyable event to be at. It’s more than a basketball tournament—it’s an event. The crowds, music, and the basketball atmosphere make it top-notch.”

The entry fee is $168 per team. Players should register for the tournament by July 1 at Corporate sponsorships are available and welcomed. And as the tournament relies on an army of volunteers, including officials and scorekeepers, you can do your part by contacting [email protected] for more information.

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