As NBA lockout drags on, some pro players join Collierville leag - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

As NBA lockout drags on, some pro players join Collierville league

(WMC-TV) - As the NBA lockout enters its third month without an agreement in sight, a basketball tournament Sunday night in the Mid-South may be the next best thing for fans starved for hoops action.

A competitive league has sprung up in Collierville at Lifetime Fitness.

The fitness center said Ultimate Hoops Memphis has players from the Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers participating in the league.

Former Memphis Tiger and current Portland Trail Blazer Earl Barron said at this time of year, he would normally be getting in shape at his arena in Portland.  Instead, he is working out alongside the public at Lifetime Fitness.

"I'm here trying to do the same thing, working out a couple of times a day," said Barron.

The league coordinator said professional players play alongside the average Joes.

"I think our league has the most NBA players," said Gary Mudry with Lifetime Fitness.  "Memphis is such a hotbed for basketball.  If the lockout continues, other teams will probably have NBA teams join theirs."

Non-NBA players said playing alongside pros is a dream come true.

"It's every basketball player's dream to play in the NBA," said Mark Gulina, a player with Ultimate Hoops Memphis.  "Most of us don't make it.  To play against guys to see how your talents match up, it's kind of fun."

Gulina plays with Barron and Elliot Williams, also of the Portland Trail Blazers.  His team plays against former NBA player and Memphis Tiger Penny Hardaway's team.

"Usually, it's not a good ending," said Gulina.  "He usually beats us.  He hasn't lost in his league yet.  Hopefully today we put his first loss against him."

Hardaway's team was down by 10 at halftime, but they came back to win in the end.

"Now it gives the guys in the lockout a chance to play with a referee, play in front of a crowd, and get some good basketball in," said Hardaway.

The NBA lockout began in July.  During the lockout, players cannot have contact with any of their coaches or players.

For more information about the Ultimate Hoops league, click here.  To visit their Facebook page, click here.

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