'You remember playing in these events': Gus Macker tournament offers family fun, bonding


Jake May/CM Life File Photo

Flint resident Trever Weston, 25, looks up in awe at his teammate jumps for a rebound at a Gus Macker tournament in this 2000 file photo.

Gus Macker 3 on 3 Basketball made its way back to Mount Pleasant last weekend, Feb. 25 and Feb. 26, this time at Morey Courts Recreation Center.

With a total of 115 teams of four, Central Michigan University students, community members and others from across the state of Michigan, ages seven and up, packed into the recreation center for an entire weekend full hoops and fun. 

Each team is scheduled for at least three games every tournament. With double elimination rules and a spot in the consolation loser's bracket after the two losses, players are guaranteed an entire weekend's worth of basketball. Spectators sat on the sidelines of eight indoor courts, each with two half court games on either side.

“This indoor one is unique because we used to being outdoors,” Lynn Mason, a retired teacher who has worked for Gus Macker for around nine years said. “We're kind of outdoor people, but it's nice not to have to deal with the weather.”

According to maker.com, since 1987, Gus Macker 3 on 3 Basketball has held a total of 972 tournaments across the United States with over 2.2 million players. First starting as a friendly wager in his parent's driveway, Gus Macker grew into something larger than ScottMcNeal, creator of the Gus Macker tournament and CMU alumnus, ever could have imagined.

“People say well, how did you make [Gus Macker] this big?” McNeal said. “There was no plan. It just kind of kept getting bigger and bigger and it got out of control.”

Kirsten Kearse/Staff Photographer Founder of Gus Macker Scott Mcneal speaks at the Gus macker press conference Thursday in the atrium of the CMU Events Center.

Designed so that anyone can play, regardless of age, gender or basketball experience, the tournemanet’s goal is to “maintain the purity and integrity of the driveway game.”

“One thing I'm most proud of, (is that) it's so diverse,” McNeal said. “Black, white, poor, rich, male, female, good (at) basketball, really bad (at) basketball. 

“People play just for fun, even if they're not very good.”

With a wide age range of contestants, McNeal said the tournament emphasizes a family environment.

“For a lot of people this is some of their fondest memories of being together as a family,” McNeal said. “Or as kids growing up, you knew you were with some of your best friends. You remember playing in these events.

“We’re really big into wholesome, mom and dad family values.”

Charity is an important part of every Macker tournament, as stated on macker.com. At each tournament site, the local organizing committee donates proceeds from the event to a local charity(s).

“We work with nonprofits and charity groups all over the country,” McNeal said. “Most of them raise money for a cause, some are just doing it to bring business to their community.”

Lynn Mason handed out trophies – and fist bumps – to the winners.

First, second and third place all received gold, silver and bronze trophies, respectively and the winners of the consolation bracket received a “toilet bowl” trophy as a reward. Each contestant was awarded an event-exclusive Gus Macker 2023 T-shirt at registration.

Afterwards, participants posed for pictures with their teammates in front of a massive Gus Macker  tournament logo.

An event that once began as a competition between friends, now 36 years later, has turned into a community event, where friends, families and community members alike can gather to not only compete, but create memories.

“You remember playing these events,”McNeal said. “It’s kind of cool that [the memories] stay with them.” 

More information about upcoming Gus Maker events, including the next one on April 29-30 at Finch Fieldhouse, can be found here.