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Playground / Aug 12, 2011 / 4:30 pm

The Best Basketball League You’ve Never Heard Of

mini basketball

A little over 12 months ago, Rob Elderton and two of his high school buddies were struggling to find players to fill out the rosters for a new basketball league they were setting up in their hometown of Shelburne, Vt.

“We had some trouble finding 30 guys, so we had to go a little out of our class,” recalls Elderton. “We went with some kids that were really young and some that were a few years older than us.”

Boy does that feel like a long time ago.

Nowadays, kids are begging Elderton and his buddies to let them into the league. One kid wanted to join so badly that he offered to drive to Vermont from Long Island, N.Y. — a six-hour trip — twice a week just to play.

“He sounded pretty serious,” says Elderton. “He already had his team name picked out.”

What, you may wonder, makes Elderton’s league so special that people are willing to travel to a small town in Vermont just to hoop?

Well there’s the miniature ball, there’s the 60-foot court, and there’s the customized retro NBA jerseys. But what really sets Elderton’s league apart are the 8.5-foot hoops that give average Joes the chance to dunk like Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin (If you don’t believe me, check out the video footage below.).

Now in its second full season, the Mini Basketball League was founded in 2010 by Elderton and his two friends — Brian McClintock and Connor McCormick. After meeting on their high school’s freshmen basketball team, the trio began regularly playing games on a lowered hoop at a friend’s house.

Years later, the idea came to form an official league using the lowered hoops and a miniature ball.

mini basketball

“There’s definitely a learning curve that’s required to get a hang of it,” says Elderton of adjusting to the style of play required for the Mini Basketball League. “You have to become a little more crafty because there’s just not a lot of space, so some of the bigger guys, like myself, we have to adjust the way we play. It’s harder to get fast breaks going because everyone can get down the court so fast.”

While the group struggled to find participants for its inaugural season, word quickly spread among friends in the area, and the league was forced to expand from 10 to 14 teams for its second season.

Then everything got a whole lot crazier.
Two weeks ago, video footage from the Mini Basketball League was posted on The Basketball Jones, and interest in the league spiked.

“It was a little crazy,” says Elderton. “We were just doing this for fun. When (The Basketball Jones) posted it, our facebook page got like 300 likes in about three days, and kids from all over the country were begging for us to start a league in their town.”

Soon enough, newspaper reporters were calling and ESPN was asking for permission to air footage from the league on SportsNation.

All the positive attention got Elderton, McClintock, and McCormick — all of whom are entering their final year of college — rethinking their futures. The trio is now talking about trying to secure sponsorships and traveling around the country hosting mini basketball tournaments.

“Since it’s gotten so popular,” says Elderton, “me and Brian and Connor have talked about maybe trying to make a career out of this, which would be pretty sweet.”

Would you join a mini basketball league?

Follow Martin on Twitter at @MartinKessler91.

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  • JDish

    Would I join?

    With a chance to dunk a basketball like the pros…
    …catch a lob for an aley-oop dunk
    …wear an “NBA” jersey and be part of a basketball team
    …run the break and get to the other end as fast as D Rose
    …hit jumpers at a higher rate than 15%
    …dominate the paint like Dwight Howard… or get dominated

    It actually looks great, I would join.

  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    i really enjoyed watching the blocks

  • http://www.google.co.uk Big Snacks

    This is a joke, right?

  • http://Dimemag.com/author/scott Scott Horlbeck

    No, this is not a joke.

  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    im thinking there should be a height limit, if youre over 6 feet tall you cant play.

  • B

    Get the hell outta with that…

  • http://thefundamentalman.net Rich Walton

    Stupid… Learn to play real basketball.

  • beiber newz

    some1 has def hit their head at least once

  • Steve Nash

    this would be fun for maybe 3 games… then i would need to hoop FOR REAL!

  • http://www.haywoodplanning.com D.H.

    I wouldn’t even have to jump to be able to dunk the ball.

  • http://www.google.co.uk Big Snacks

    Small-town kids got too much time on their hands.

    Well, suppose it’s better than becoming a tweaker.

  • http://www.getyoshit.org Chicagorilla

    that looks like fun. I know every year we have a family picnic here and there is a small rim that’s about 8ft tall and we go crazy on that rim. even the girls are out there dunking.

    Now that I can’t dunk on a 10ft rim anymore, i wouldn’t mind going to work on a 8.5ft rim. lol, shit would be fun. Although i wouldn’t take it too serious.

  • da real “RONDO”

    looks like fun, rims could be a little higher and still get the same action if you ask me

  • Bob

    essentially, this is a league for the athletically challenged (white ppl).

  • Steve

    No offense to Martin, but this article gives the NBA players and owners enough reason to get back on the court….if this is what is going to appear in DIME…..give me the WNBA!

  • control

    I almost want to join just to kill some of these lil fucks…I’d be able to do the first touch the top of the backboard and dunk.

    This shit really gives white folk a bad look though…

  • flyp

    1. This looks like so much fun.
    2. I’d be afraid of knocking my knee on one of those concrete barriers after a dunk.
    3. There are actually people watching! (And at least one of them’s a girl.)

  • PWEEZY

    this is pathetic LOL first of the the backdrop is the garage that was used in BASKETBALL…and its a bunch of 30-50 out of shape white ppl. WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP comes into play here. I can see a lot of broken fingers from attempted block/dunks…and the shooters from 10ft away like it was hard to drain it….and if you’re a defender you can totally block that jumper…

    weezy out

  • MBL Commish

    half the players in this league have played in and/or won in the high school state championship in Vermont

  • Da man

    That look like a grown up elementary league game lol.

  • trollne1

    anyone else noticed all of them are white boys? just sayin

  • kyballer312

    Some of you guys(girls) are just pathetic…I am 44 y/o now and I was a SERIOUS hooper til my mid 30’s…have coached on many levels and THAT SHYT LOOKS FUN AS HELL…I was looking at the vid and some of those guys are legitimately decent ball players…it was done for fun and now they stand to make a little money from it…more power to them…I would sponsor a league here as well in KY with a cpl of modifications…I don’t like using this term but some of you all are just consistent haters…DAMN!

  • GMK

    Naismith is spinning in his grave right now.

    This is a travesty!

  • Big Island

    I would absolutely play in a league like that. We used to play at this park out here from around noon until 5 or so, then a bunch of us would go to a school around the corner for the dunkball game. We didn’t have a small ball though. The only guy who played that couldn’t dunk on a regulation rim was 5’3″, and he could dunk a volleyball on regulation. There was another guy who was 6’2″, but had a 44″ vertical. I wouldn’t be able to prove it in a court of law, but I swear some guys sandbagged it on the regular rims for the games on the 8 1/2 foot rims later.

    I am siding with #21.

  • Tyler Whitcomb

    kyballer312, I completely agree with you!

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Quiznakes K Dizzle

    @ Martin

    Who won the Canada-USA game?

  • Rob Elderton

    @ K Dizzle

    USA won a 7 game series 4-0 and we played one more game will our weaker players that Canada won

  • http://dimemag.com/ Martin Kessler

    I believe they played five games, four of which were won by the U.S.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Looks like a lot of fun. Not for more than a few games, but a lot of fun.

    @ the people that don’t like it – don’t lie, when you were younger you DEFINITELY wished you had rims like that, and even all the punks that (claim they) can dunk probably can’t palm the ball haha

  • A.R.

    They lost me at 8.5 foot rim. Where the competition in that? the tallest guy would Wilt Chamberlain the league.

  • Bob

    @ MBL Commish

    “half the players in this league have played in and/or won in the high school state championship in Vermont”

    Either Vermont has 0 basketball talent, or all these scrubs played on the same damn team.

  • Octopus Jonny

    There’s an elementary school a couple miles up the road with 9′ rims that we used to destroy after school.

    I think 8.5 is too low. 9′ is perfect. And instead of the mini ball, maybe use the smaller women’s ball? Would still make it easy enough to palm for the smaller players, and would allow for much more creative dribbling.

    Cool idea!

  • cesar

    agree with octopus jonny! 9ft tall rim and womens ball!

  • JH

    “Jam Ball” (What I grew up calling it) is fun…& if people can form dodge ball leagues…why not a “Jam Ball” league? A fun game…that shouldn’t be taken as seriously as the real thing.

  • shuttles

    This is kinda cool but the mini ball is stupid. Use a real ball, dudes.