June 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Detroit shows off basketball tradition with first Motor City Hoops Classic

Detroit — The Detroit Riverfront was alive with the sound of dribbling basketballs Saturday during the first ever Motor City Hoops Classic.

The 3-on-3 basketball tournament brought together children and adults of all ages to hoop it up in the GM parking lot near the Renaissance Center.

With the Detroit River as a backdrop, and sunny, 70-degree weather, the tournament drew in around 500 players on 139 teams, said Jon Witz of Jonathan Witz and Associates, which organized the event to raise money for the Detroit Goodfellow and the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy.

“Detroit certainly does have a basketball tradition,” said Witz. “As far as the outdoor tournament goes, we’ve found there’s a definite demand and interest in it.”

Teams came from as far away as Lansing, Flint and Grand Rapids. There were separate divisions for police, firefighters and wheelchair athletes.

“We wanted to make this for almost all ages and skill levels,” said Witz. “We wanted to make it really accessible.” The tournament continues Sunday.

The parking lot was divided into half courts with basketball hoops where teams of three battled it out.

LaDonna Slaughter’s daughter Kela Willis, 15, formed a team called the Detroit Roadrunners with her cousin and a classmate.

“I think it’s nice,” said Slaughter, of Harper Woods. “It gives them some experience.”

Lemuel Daniel, a coach with the Motor City Chargers boys basketball organization, brought about 10 boys from ages 10-13 to the tournament. The organization is open to boys 8-17 and provides more than just a chance to play basketball: their slogan is “#1 team, #1 family.”

“It originated where we had a young man playing with the organization who became homeless,” said Daniel. “The organization and the coaches kind of took him in and made sure he was taken care of.”

Daniel said that many of the boys grow up in single-parent households, so the coaches try to show a positive male influence.

“As dads and coaches, we are trying to make sure they have that whole family feel,” he said.

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Detroit Pistons Flight Crew member Aaron 'Hammer' Drenikowski, 25, of Auburn Hills, dunks the ball during his team's performance. / Todd McInturf / The Detroit News
Lorenzo Gaines, 23, of Detroit, shoots the ball before his team's wheel ... (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)
'The Withum' team member Teresa Kujawa, left, 11, is guarded by 'The ... (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)