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Macker draws 960 teams to Niagara Square

The Legman's Joe Bradey of Williamsville breaks around the Rockets' Howard Bope of Buffalo at the Gus Macker basketball tournament in Buffalo today. (John Hickey / Buffalo News)

BUFFALO -- Brad Young and the West Side Gunners have returned to every Gus Macker tournament for 20 years.

Their game may have changed, but not the passion and energy that keeps drawing them back to the 3-on-3 basketball tournament year after year.

"We've gotten a little older, and we've gotten a little weaker, but we're all pretty good shooters," said Young, 48, a material handler for Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo. 

Young and his long-time buddies joined more than 4,000 players and 960 teams in Niagara Square and on Delaware Avenue today for the annual street tournament. The games will continue Sunday.

Bob Youngs, Gus Macker event manager, said the tournament in Buffalo is the largest of the Gus Macker competitions across the country.

For Brooke Schiltz, a 24-year-old teacher from Holland, the Macker is as much about getting on the court as it is about watching others play.

"You walk by every single court, and you see someone you know," Schiltz said.

But when the weekend's over, Young said, the hard pavement and sharp elbows will have taken a toll.

"I would sum it up in one word: pain," Young said. "Because that's how you feel after you get done playing."

Check out the scene in Niagara Square this afternoon in this video clip:

--Denise Jewell Gee

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