It's one of the more popular summer weekend events in downtown Buffalo every year. But the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament wasn't going to happen in 2009. Short on financing the event was going to fold, until a couple of Buffalo Bills stepped in to keep the balls bouncing.
Terrence McGee and Marshawn Lynch offered to be the lead financial sponsors of the Gus Macker to keep the tournament alive in Buffalo for the over 3,800 players participating this summer.
"The people I've come to know in Buffalo during my years here look forward to the Gus Macker tournament every year," said McGee. "To hear that it may not have gone off this year made me want to step in to help."
McGee plans to be in attendance at the tournament on Saturday where he'll be signing autographs while taking in all the action.
"I know it's a real competitive tournament every summer, so I'll be keeping a close eye on the games as we get closer to the finals," McGee said.
Buffalo's Gus Macker is known to be the largest of its kind in the country in terms of participants and spectators with over 40 thousand onlookers last year.
As always the tournament will have courts around Niagara Square and winding up Delaware Avenue. Games begin at 8 am on Saturday with the tournament wrapping up late Sunday afternoon. More than 1,000 games are expected to be played by the time the two-day hoop fest is over.
The Macker is organized by the Police Athletic League of Buffalo and Kids Escaping Drugs Campaign with uniformed police providing security. All proceeds from the event will directly benefit local children through Kids Escaping Drugs (KED) and Police Athletic League of Buffalo.
McGee doesn't consider himself much of basketball player, but having played on his neighborhood playgrounds in his native Texas growing up he can relate to the 3-on-3 game that defines the Gus Macker.
"My game never developed to the point where I played in an organized setting," said McGee. "I didn't play much more than street ball growing up, but that's kind of what this tournament is. Still football was my focus."
But for one weekend McGee and Lynch will be focused on some of Buffalo's best court players. Numerous former college and pro players are expected to be participating including O'Tes Alston, Andy Bush, Modie Cox, Jason Rowe and Maceo Wofford among many others.
"It just feels good to be able to help out and keep a positive event like this going," said McGee. "Buffalo has given me so much, so to have the opportunity to give back and help Kids Escaping Drugs and the P.A.L. is very rewarding."