Former NBA star Chris Kaman to play in Big Rapids Macker

Gus Macker trucks with baskets and backboards for this weekend’s tournament arrived on downtown Big Rapids on Thursday. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

BIG RAPIDS — Downtown Big Rapids becomes Mackerville for the first time this weekend when Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball brings its game to Michigan Ave.

The appearance of former NBA player Chris Kaman, and members of the Ferris State national championship basketball team will be among the features when 135 teams of various age groups compete for trophies.

The portion of Michigan Ave. north of Maple Street will be closed later on Friday to allow the set up of Mackerville with its top men’s court and dream court taking center stage.

Local Macker officials were expected to start setting up on Friday morning. Some equipment had arrive on Thursday. The street closing is expected to be between between 5 and 6 p.m. on Friday.

“We’re getting excited,” Big Rapids girls basketball coach Jessica Haist, one of the local tournament organizers, said. “We have a good 15 courts or so. We have some big teams on the top men’s court.”

Opening ceremonies are set for 8 a.m. at the main stage in front of Chemical Bank where the top men’s court will also be located. The dream court is in the parking lot just north of Bernie’s. Registration is at the Elks building. Games begin at 8:30 a.m

Players this weekend will include Kaman, 36, born in Grand Rapids, is an American-German former professional basketball player. Kaman stands 7 feet tall and weighs 265 pounds. He was selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2003 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, after a college basketball career at Central Michigan University.

His last pro season was 2015-16 with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Haist said most of the teams will consist of local players.

“We were surprised we have so many older groups,” she said. “We thought we night have more of a youth following. We have older groups which is great.”

Special events are expected through the day including the slam dunk contest at 6 p.m.

“We have the dream court where kids can play on all day long,” Haist said.

Members of the national championship Ferris basketball team are expected to make appearances and sign autographs 3 to 7 p.m. They’ll also judge the slam dunk contest

Games will end around 7 p.m. on Saturday and resume 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. Special events and award presentations are set for Sunday morning. By mid-afternoon, the tournament is expected to be completed.

It’s the 45th season of Gus Macker and founder Scott McNeal is tentatively expected to appear during the weekend.

“If you haven’t been to a Gus Macker, it’s hard to convey what an awesome event it is and the full magnitude of it,” Haist said. “It’s pretty awesome. Hopefully, this will be a good experience, and people will want to come back.

“I hope people will enjoy it. It was our goal to bring something fun to town.”

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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