For the 24th straight year, the streets of downtown Quincy will be filled with basketball players of all ages for the return of the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament.
It's good to hear that, after years of declining participation numbers, this year's tournament got a little bit of a bump up. Some 419 teams and nearly 1,700 players will take to the courts around Washington Park.
I've always loved the fact that Quincy, known as a basketball town throughout the country, shuts down its streets so people can play the game. The addition of licensed officials should help make the tournament run even more smoothly this year than it has in the past.
Not everyone will walk away from the tournament with a trophy, but everyone can still have a fun time by following these simple steps:
1. Have a good team name.
What you call yourself is of utmost importance in any recreational setting, especially the Macker. Be creative. A former co-worker of mine had a daughter who played Macker for several years under the monicker of "Who Brought Treats?"
Just because you added a "Z" to your name and changed "Ballers" to "Ballerz" doesn't mean you're creative. It means that you're out to infuriate your English teacher.
Scanning this year's entry list, gold stars for creativity go to "Swish Cheese," "Hoops I Did It Again," "Dropping Deuces," "Midgets With Crew Cuts" and "Scorgasms." Surprisingly, no one had a hashtag as part of their name. Hopefully, some Twitter nerd next year will incorporate one into their team name.
2. Dress the part.
Your Macker uniform should be flashy. Stand out from the crowd. If people won't remember you for your game, which they probably won't, at least you can be remembered for what you wear. The weirder the uniform, the better, when it comes to Macker. Tie-dyed uniforms are always a good look. Crazy hair can also be an eye-catcher. Tie-dyed hair would be fabulous.
3. Check out the play on the top courts.
Competition looks to be fierce on the courts that house the top men's and women's players in the field near the corner of Fifth and Maine. Many former high school and college stars from yesteryear congregate here. On the men's court, you're likely to see some dunks and some exciting playground play. The top women's court will bring some of the best fundamental play of the tournament.
If you're in the area around noon on Sunday, head to the top men's court for the slam dunk contest. You never know what you'll see. Odds are you won't see a dunk anywhere better than the one former John Wood Community College player Antoine Jackson threw down in 2008. He called it "Money in the Bank" after throwing the ball off the Mercantile bank building and catching it off one bounce and throwing it down. He did it on his first try. The best dunk I have ever seen in person. As a contest judge that year, it was easy to pick a winner.
4. Let them play.
If you're a spectator, cheer on your little hoops star all you'd like, but don't yell at the referees or scoretakers. There is absolutely nothing on the line this weekend. The next person to earn an NBA contract or college scholarship from their play in a Macker tournament will be the first.
Enjoy what should be a beautiful weekend in a great setting. After your kid is done playing, tell them you enjoyed watching them play and go grab a treat.