AMONG THE 850 TEAMS and nearly 3,500 players in the second Roundball Ruckus at the 49th Street Galleria Friday and Saturday, there was more than a little nepotism. Apparently, when a lot of street players conduct their drafts for their four-man teams, the first people they think of are the guys they grew up sharing a driveway with. If your brother won't pass it to you, who will?
Weekend three-on-three tournaments like the Roundball Ruckus are to everyday athletes in the '90s what 10K races were in the '80s. All you need is a large parking lot, about 50 baskets and a few thousand t-shirts.The teams - and they're coming out in droves - can be made up of any combination. As was obvious at yesterday's event, a lot of teams have family ties. For one thing, there's the familiarity factor. For another, there's the chance to gang up on somebody else for a change.
"We beat each other up so much at home we decided to put our training to good use," said Brad Mortimer, a member of an all-brother team including his brothers Jeff, Dave and Troy. The name of their Roundball Ruckus entry was the Rigorous Morts and One Stiff (the stiff being Troy, at 27 the second youngest but still the most out-of-basketball-shape since he's just winding up his first year of medical school at Utah).
The Rigorous Morts and One Stiff don't live together at home any more. Their ages range from 24 to 33. But basketball lets them think they're still back in the driveway, waiting to be called in for supper.
It was the same yesterday with the Long brothers from Orem, namely Mark, Rob, Doug and Steve. They were one of the strongest teams in Div. 18. They called themselves, of course, The Long Shots. Their ages range from 21 to 31. Doug is the oldest, 10 years to the day older than Rob. "I was born on Mar. 16, 1960," said Doug, "and Rob was born on Mar. 16, 1970. After that our parents said that's it."
The Long Shots have played basketball together since before they can remember and, according to Doug, get along so well on the court it's hard for even them to believe. "When we were younger we used to fight," he said. "But we don't fight anymore. We just like to play."
The same sentiment went for Kory and Todd Kunz of Salt Lake and Mike Bair and Barry Craft of Provo. They entered Div. 23 as The Brothers. Kory and Todd are brothers and Mike and Barry are their brothers-in-law. "We married the Kunz girls," said Bair, a 6-foot-4, 350-pound former offensive lineman for Brigham Young who was, according to Kory, The Brothers' "Designated Mountain."
The Brothers played in the Hoop It Up tournament last August in Salt Lake and liked it so much they counted the days till they could enter the Roundball Ruckus. When they're not playing in a tournament they're playing in a backyard on weekends. "We argue a little, sometimes," said Kory, looking in the direction of the Designated Mountain, "but not much."
Another brother team called the Ogden Rebels consisted of Lorenzo, Vincent and Henderson Harry, and Fabian Mitchell, a friend. The Ogden Rebels were feeling no pain after a narrow two-point win over a non-brother team called Mean 'n Lean.
"We entered because it's good exercise, and it's something to do," said Lorenzo Harry, who played in the first Roundball Ruckus a year ago, but not with his brothers. "We play ball together all the time," he said. "We thought it would be good to play against somebody else."
All of the brother teams mentioned above did particularly well Friday and Saturday in their respective classes (divisions, 56 in all, take into account, age, weight, height, and playing ability). It seemed to be an endorsement for family teamwork and togetherness.
When the brothers and brothers-in-law of The Brothers finally did lose, by two points to a team called The Untouchables, Bair shrugged and said, "we got tired . . . it wasn't anybody's fault."
A lot of games in the driveway never ended like that, but in those games, everyone wasn't on the same side, either.