Ingenious robotic basketball hoop helps you not miss

Last month, engineer Shane Wighton of Stuff Made Here impressed the Internet with his curiously engineered wooden basketball backboard that helps the ball into the hoop. (Video below.) His latest version, above, employs computer vision and robotics to track the ball and tilt the backboard to direct the ball through the basket.

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Spanish nuns playing basketball in quarantine

The nuns at the San Leandro convent in Seville, Spain have been very busy making masks as part of their charity work. But it's important to stay in shape in quarantine — plus, everyone deserves a break from sometimes. So naturally, they converted the 13th century courtyard into a different kind of court.

Just watch out for those Hail Mary shots.

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The Harlem Globetrotters' Fred "Curly" Neal, RIP

The legendary Fred "Curly" Neal of the Harlem Globetrotters died this morning. He was 77. I remember the first time I saw the Globetrotters as a kid in the late 1970s. I was disappointed when the team was introduced and Curly was nowhere to be seen. Then suddenly, one of the players tore off another's afro wig and we realized it was Curly in disguise! From ESPN:

"We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known," Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement. "Curly's basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide. He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions."

Neal played in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries for the barnstorming Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985, when the team appeared in numerous televised specials, talk shows, television shows and even cartoons that included the team's own animated series [first episode below].

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NCAA cancels March Madness due to coronavirus

Citing “the COVID-19 public health threat,” the NCAA is canceling March Madness and all other winter and spring men's and women's college basketball tournaments amid a growing coronavirus pandemic. Read the rest

Apple's capitulation over Hong Kong protest app isn't new; and the NBA is racing it to the bottom

When Apple caved to pressure from the Chinese government and yanked an Ios app that let users avoid being attacked by the city-state's murderous, rampaging police forces, it was merely continuing a long tradition of capitulation to Chinese authorities, who control access to some of Apple's most important customers as well as the factories that make the bulk of Apple's products. Read the rest

Watch Toyota's robot basketball player hit three-pointers

Toyota Engineering Society's CUE 3 is a 6'3" humanoid robot reportedly hits free throws with nearly 100 percent accuracy. From the AP:

(The robot) computes as a three-dimensional image where the basket is, using sensors on its torso, and adjusts motors inside its arm and knees to give the shot the right angle and propulsion for a swish...

Stanford University Professor Oussama Khatib, who directs the university's robotics lab, said Cue 3 demonstrates complex activities such as using sensors and nimble computation in real-time in what he called "visual feedback."

To shoot hoops, the robot must have a good vision system, be able to compute the ball's path then execute the shot, he said in a telephone interview.

"What Toyota is doing here is really bringing the top capabilities in perception with the top capabilities in control to have robots perform something that is really challenging," Khatib said.

"Toyota robot can’t slam dunk but it shoots a mean 3-pointer" (AP/Asahi Shimbun)

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Garry Shandling hosted secret pickup basketball games at his home for 25 years

Nearly every Sunday for 25 years, Garry Shandling held a secret pickup basketball game for his friends, including celebrities like Sarah Silverman, David Duchovny, Sacha Baron Cohen, Will Ferrell, Kevin Nealon, and Judd Apatow. ESPN writes, "Those Sundays yielded friendships that are responsible for some of the best television and film of the past 20 years. As director Alex Richanbach says, 'This group of people found a little family in Los Angeles because we all have the same comedy dad.'"

Shandling passed away in 2016 but the stories of what the scene was like are coming out now.

There are way too many to include here and they build on each other, so head to ESPN to read the game's oral history by the people who were there: 'Fight Club' with better jokes: Inside Garry Shandling's secret pickup game

One last thing: As a tribute to Shandling, his friends gathered to play one last game of basketball at his house just three days after his death.

View this post on Instagram

One last game of basketball at Garry's house to say goodbye.

A post shared by Judd Apatow (@juddapatow) on Mar 27, 2016 at 10:49pm PDT

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Now, a smiley-faced basketball

I don't think I've been around a basketball in two decades, never mind played with one. (Who am I kidding? It's easily been three decades.) Yet, I can't help but dig this bright yellow Smiley basketball by Chinatown Market ($59). Dare I say that it put a smile on my face? (Yeah, I'd better not.)

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Hilarious "bad lip reading" of the NBA

I didn't bother to watch any of the NBA championship series but I was glued to the screen for this Bad Lip Reading of the 2017-2018 pro basketball season. Read the rest

Fergie's rendition of Star-Spangled Banner legendary by dawn

At last night's NBA All-Star basketball game, singer Fergie sang the Star-Spangled banner for thousands at the venue and millions at home. She's been getting interesting reviews and people stayed up late to give them. I, for one, hope she now sings Happy Birthday to President Trump, concluding by shouting "Let's play some basketball" Read the rest

Watch this college basketball player's Oscar-worthy fake flop after he's "fouled"

Yesterday, the Oregon Ducks' Dillon Brooks and Utah Utes' Sedrick Barefield slightly bumped one another while Barefield had the ball. Hoping for a call against Barefield, Brooks then launched himself into one of the greatest, fakest flops of all time.

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Watch five basketball players dribble a Christmas carol

This 2012 performance of “Carol Of The Bells” should be redubbed “Carol Of The Balls.” Read the rest

NBA pulls 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over North Carolina's transgender bathroom law

The National Basketball Association won't be holding the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina, because of a recently passed state law that discriminates against transgender people. Read the rest

Every pro basketball shot Kobe Bryant ever made, mapped on the court

Be sure to view the LA Times' interactive graphic, where you can see stats, details of each shot (the longest to sink was from 43ft), and the full court. Folks keep asking why there's a "dead zone." The answer is surely the obvious one: that it's just inside the 3-point line. When you're that close to it, you may as well go for 3 points rather than take another step and only get 2. Read the rest

Teen basketballer impaled by floorboard during court slide

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDV-FnhOgNQ

A 14-year-old basketball player was impaled by an uneven floorboard while sliding across the court.

The girl was stuck four inches deep, but the wood missed major organs and she was not seriously injured, reports ABC News.

Meanwhile, school officials tell local station WISC they don't know how this could have happened. They say the floor is fairly new. They are now working to fix it.

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Harlem Globetrotters' Meadowlark Lemon, RIP

The world's most famous basketball prankster, George "Meadowlark" Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters, has died at age 83. I was fortunate to see Meadowlark perform with the Globetrotters several times in the 1970s. He was not only a master of the ball, but also a delightful and hilarious performer whose joy was infectious. (CNN)

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March community-building-and-tribal-unity/Madness

At the Wall Street Journal, Eric Simmons writes about the psychology of March Madness, which is really the psychology of relationships and the deep emotional bonds underlying communities and tribes. When you cheer on the Wichita State Shockers in the Final Four, what you're really doing is introducing other people (and other groups) into your definition of self. Read the rest

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