Title:
Support structure for a basketball system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A basketball system may include a support member that is sized and configured to support a basketball goal at a desired height above a playing surface. The basketball system may also include a base connected to the support member and the base may be sized and configured to be connected to a support surface or structure. A reinforcing structure may be used to increase the strength and/or rigidity of the connection between the support member and the base. The reinforcement structure may include one or more reinforcing members and an intermediate portion, if desired.



Inventors:
Winter, David C. (Layton, UT, US)
Nye, Curtis S. (Syracuse, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/291470
Publication Date:
08/31/2006
Filing Date:
12/01/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B63/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAMBERS, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Workman Nydegger (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A basketball system comprising: a basketball goal; a support member connected to the basketball goal; a base connected to the support member; and a reinforcing structure connected to the base, the reinforcing structure being sized and configured to reinforce the connection of the base to the support member, the reinforcing structure comprising: a first reinforcing member connected to the base, the first reinforcing member including an upper portion and a lower portion; a second reinforcing member connected to the base, the second reinforcing member including an upper portion and a lower portion; and an intermediate portion at least partially disposed between the first reinforcing member and the second reinforcing member, the intermediate portion including an inner surface that is sized and configured to abut the support member.

2. The basketball system as in claim 1, wherein the base includes a plate and the first reinforcing member is connected to the plate and the second reinforcing member is connected to the plate.

3. The basketball system as in claim 1, wherein the intermediate portion of the reinforcing structure is spaced apart from the base.

4. The basketball system as in claim 1, wherein the intermediate portion of the reinforcing structure abuts the base.

5. The basketball system as in claim 1, wherein the intermediate portion is connected to the first reinforcing member and the second reinforcing member.

6. The basketball system as in claim 1, wherein the intermediate portion is connected to the support member.

7. The basketball system as in claim 1, wherein at least a portion of the intermediate portion is disposed above the upper portion of the first reinforcing member and the upper portion of the second reinforcing member.

8. The basketball system as in claim 1, wherein a portion of the intermediate portion is disposed between the first reinforcing member and the support member; and wherein a portion of the intermediate portion is disposed between the second reinforcing member and the support member.

9. The basketball system as in claim 1, wherein the first reinforcing member comprises: a generally triangular-shaped body including a first side connected to the base; and an extension extending outwardly from the body, the extension being disposed away from the base and being disposed generally proximate the support member; and wherein the second reinforcing member comprises: a generally triangular-shaped body including a first side connected to the base; and an extension extending outwardly from the body, the extension being disposed away from the base and being disposed generally proximate the support member.

10. The basketball system as in claim 1, further comprising a first side of the first reinforcing member that is attached to the base and a second side of the first reinforcing member that is disposed generally proximate the support member, a length of the second side being greater than a length of the first side of the first reinforcing member; and further comprising a first side of the second reinforcing member that is attached to the base and a second side of the second reinforcing member that is disposed generally proximate the support member, a length of the second side being greater than a length of the first side of the second reinforcing member.

11. A portion of a basketball system comprising: a support member; a base connected to the support member; a reinforcing member including an upper portion and a lower portion, the reinforcing member comprising: a body including a first portion connected to the base and a second portion connected to the support member; and an extension that extends outwardly from the second portion of the body, the extension being connected to the support member.

12. The portion of a basketball system as in claim 11, wherein the body of the reinforcing member has a generally triangular-shaped configuration; and wherein the extension of the reinforcing member has a generally rectangular-shaped configuration.

13. The portion of a basketball system as in claim 11, further comprising an intermediate portion connected to the extension of the reinforcing member, the intermediate portion including an inner surface that is sized and configured to abut the support member.

14. The portion of a basketball system as in claim 13, wherein at least a portion of the intermediate portion is disposed above the upper portion of the reinforcing member.

15. The portion of a basketball system as in claim 13, wherein a portion of the intermediate portion is disposed between the reinforcing member and the support member.

16. A basketball system comprising: a basketball goal; a support member connected to the basketball goal; a base connected to the support member; and a reinforcing structure connected to the base and the support member, the reinforcing structure comprising: a first reinforcing member connected including an upper portion and a lower portion, the first reinforcing member comprising: a body including a first portion connected to the base and a second portion connected to the support member; and an extension that extends outwardly from the second portion of the body, the extension being connected to the support member; a second reinforcing member including an upper portion and a lower portion, the second reinforcing member comprising: a body including a first portion connected to the base and a second portion connected to the support member; and an extension that extends outwardly from the second portion of the body, the extension being connected to the support member; and an intermediate portion at least partially disposed between the first reinforcing member and the second reinforcing member, the intermediate portion including an inner surface that is sized and configured to abut the support member.

17. The basketball system as in claim 16, wherein at least a portion of the intermediate portion is disposed above the upper portion of the first reinforcing member and the upper portion of the second reinforcing member

18. The basketball system as in claim 16, wherein a portion of the intermediate portion is disposed between the first reinforcing member and the support member; and wherein a portion of the intermediate portion is disposed between the second reinforcing member and the support member

19. The basketball system as in claim 16, wherein the body of the first reinforcing member has a generally triangular-shaped configuration and the extension of the first reinforcing member has a generally rectangular-shaped configuration; and wherein the body of the second reinforcing member has a generally triangular-shaped configuration and the extension of the second reinforcing member has a generally rectangular-shaped configuration.

20. The basketball system as in claim 16, wherein the intermediate portion includes a first section that is connected to the first reinforcing portion and a second section that is connected to the second reinforcing portion, the first section of the intermediate portion being spaced apart from the second section of the intermediate portion.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/632,128, filed Dec. 1, 2004 and entitled SUPPORT STRUCTURE FOR A BASKETBALL GOAL SYSTEM, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to a support structure and, in particular, to a support structure that may be used to support at least a portion of a basketball system.

2. Description of Related Art

Basketball is an increasingly popular sport in the United States and abroad. There are many cities, counties and other associations that sponsor professional, recreational and instruction leagues where people of all ages can participate in the sport of basketball. Today there are organized leagues for children as young as five and six years old. Accordingly, is not surprising that more and more people play basketball and/or own a basketball system.

A conventional basketball system often includes a basketball goal, which may include a backboard, a rim and a net, that is positioned above a playing surface at a desired height. In some systems, an elongated support member, such as a support pole or post, is used to support the basketball goal above the playing surface. The basketball goal is typically positioned so that the rim is ten feet above the playing surface, but it is known to adjust the height of the basketball goal to allow, for example, children to play basketball.

Conventional basketball systems may be used in variety of locations, such as parks, schools, gymnasiums and playgrounds, to allow basketball to be played. In addition, it may be desirable to play basketball at home. Basketball systems that are used at home are typically either portable or permanently-mounted systems. Portable basketball systems are often relatively lightweight and may include a base that can be transported from one location to another through the use of wheels. The base can be filled with ballast material, such as sand or water, when the portable basketball system is located in the desired location to prevent the portable basketball system from undesirably moving. Permanently-mounted basketball systems, on the other hand, are typically larger and heavier systems that are designed to be fixed permanently in place. For example, conventional permanently-mounted basketball systems may be attached to a concrete mounting block or a similar mounting structure.

Conventional permanently-mounted basketball systems may be somewhat difficult to assemble and install. For example, many conventional permanently-mounted basketball systems are attached to a concrete mounting block with four upwardly protruding bolts that are arranged into a square configuration. These known permanently-mounted basketball systems may include a base plate affixed to the elongated support member and the base plate may include holes that are sized and configured to receive the four upwardly protruding bolts. The elongated support member and the base plate are typically lifted off the ground, in a vertical orientation, and then set down so that each hole of the base plate is aligned with a bolt. Unfortunately many conventional permanently-mounted basketball systems are heavy and difficult to lift. In addition, many conventional permanently-mounted basketball systems are often large, bulky and awkward to move. Consequently, the task of lifting conventional permanently-mounted basketball systems in the vertical orientation, moving the structure over the upwardly protruding bolts and aligning the holes of the base plate with the upwardly extending bolts is often a difficult operation that normally requires the use of several strong adults.

In addition, because the basketball goal is often relatively heavy and the basketball system may be subject to large forces, such as when a person dunks a basketball or hangs from the rim, known basketball systems typically have a heavy-duty support pole or post. This may be true whether the support pole is part of a permanent or portable basketball system. The heavy-duty support pole is typically constructed from metal, such as steel, and the pole is typically a tube or cylinder with large, thick outer walls. Thus, many conventional basketball systems include a support pole that is constructed from heavy-duty, large gauge steel tubing.

Conventional basketball systems, however, may still not be sturdy enough to prevent damage to portions of the system, such as the elongated support pole or the base plate, when large forces are applied to the system. For example, the support pole and/or the connection of the support pole to the base plate may be damaged when large forces are applied to the system. In addition, the support pole and/or the connection of the support pole to the base plate may be cracked, bent or otherwise damaged when repeatedly subjected to such forces.

Conventional basketball systems with support poles constructed from heavy-duty, large gauge steel tubing may be relatively expensive because of the cost of the support pole. In addition, the large gauge steel tubing may increase the overall weight of the basketball system, which may increase the cost of shipping the system. This large weight may also deter customers from purchasing the basketball system because it may be very difficult to load the basketball system into their vehicles, transport the basketball system home, position the basketball system in the desired location and/or install the basketball system.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A need therefore exists for a basketball system that reduces or eliminates the above-described disadvantages and problems.

One aspect is a basketball system that may include a basketball goal. The basketball goal may include a backboard, a rim and a net. The basketball rim, for example, may have a displaceable (or break away) configuration or a fixed configuration, and the basketball backboard may have a variety of suitable configurations and arrangements. The basketball system may also include a support member, such as a support pole or post, which may be connected to the basketball goal and help support the basketball goal at a desired height above a playing surface. If desired, the height of the basketball goal above the playing surface may be adjustable. The basketball goal, support member and other portions of the basketball system may have a variety of suitable arrangements, configurations and the like depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system.

Another aspect is a basketball system that may include a support member and a base. For example, the support member may include a basketball goal connected to one end and a base connected to the other end. The base may be sized and configured to be position the support member in a desired position and/or location. In addition, the base may be connected to the support surface or structure. For instance, the base may include a plate that is connected to the support member and the support surface or structure. The base may also include a second plate that could be connected, for example, to the first plate and the support surface or structure. The plates are preferably constructed from metal and welded in position, but the plates may be constructed from other suitable materials and connected using other appropriate processes and methods.

Still another aspect is a basketball system that may include a base that is connected to a desired portion of the support member. For example, the base may be connected to the bottom portion of the support member or the end of the support member may extend through and/or beyond the base. The base and the support member may be integrally formed as part of a unitary structure, if desired.

A further aspect is a basketball system that may include a reinforcing structure that is sized and configured to help increase the strength and/or rigidity of the connection between the support member and the base. Advantageously, the reinforcing structure may help reinforce and/or fortify the connection of the support member and the base. In addition, the reinforcing structure may help prevent or reduce cracking, bending and other damage to the support member and/or base by, for example, absorbing energy that might otherwise damage the system. Significantly, the reinforcing structure may also permit the support member and/or base to be constructed from thinner and/or lighter materials, which may allow the weight and/or cost of the basketball system to be decreased.

A still further aspect is a basketball system that may include a reinforcing structure with one or more reinforcing members. Advantageously, the reinforcing members may be connected to the support member and/or the base in one or more suitable positions. For example, the support member and the base may include a front portion, a rear portion, a left side and a right side. One reinforcing member may be attached to the right, rear portion of the support member and the support plate, and another reinforcing portion may be attached to the left, rear portion of the support member and the support plate. Desirably, the reinforcing members are disposed at an angle relative to the support member and the base. It will be appreciated that the reinforcing members could be attached in a variety of suitable locations, arrangement and configurations. It will also be appreciated that the reinforcing members could have a variety of suitable shapes, sizes and forms.

Another aspect is a basketball system that may include reinforcing members that have a generally non-linear outer edge, such as angled, curvilinear, jagged, and the like. Advantageously, the non-linear shape of the outer edge may help increase the strength, rigidity, and/or flexibility of the connection between the support member and the base. In addition, the reinforcing members may have a generally non-planar outer surface. The non-planar surface may also help increase the strength, rigidity, and/or flexibility of the connection between the support member and the plate. The generally non-linear outer edge and/or a generally non-planar outer surface may also define at least a portion of an inwardly extending portion or recess, which may also help increase the strength, rigidity, and/or flexibility of the connection between the support member and the plate.

Still another aspect is a basketball system that may include reinforcing members with a generally triangular configuration. The reinforcing members may also include an extension that extends from the generally triangular portion. Advantageously, the generally triangular portion and/or the extension may help increase the strength, rigidity, and/or flexibility of the connection between the support member and the plate.

Yet another aspect is a basketball system that may include a reinforcement structure that includes one or more reinforcement members and one or more intermediate portions. For example, the reinforcement structure may include a first reinforcement member, a second reinforcement member and an intermediate portion. The first and second reinforcement members may be spaced apart from each other and the intermediate portion may be at least disposed between the first and second reinforcement members. The intermediate portion preferably interconnects the first and second reinforcement members, but the reinforcement members do not have to be connected. The first and second reinforcement portions may have a generally triangular configuration and the intermediate portion may have a generally rectangular configuration with an inner surface adapted to abut and/or be secured to the support member. Advantageously, the reinforcement members and the intermediate portion may help increase the strength, rigidity, and/or flexibility of the connection between the support member and the plate. In addition, the reinforcement members and the intermediate portion may be formed integrally as a one piece component or as separate components.

Yet another aspect is a basketball system that may include a reinforcement structure with a first reinforcing member having a body and an extension, and a second reinforcing member with a body and an extension. The reinforcement members may be spaced apart from each other, if desired. The bodies of the reinforcement members preferably have a generally triangular-shaped configuration and the extensions of the reinforcement members preferably have a generally rectangular-shaped configuration.

These and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The appended drawings contain figures of preferred embodiments to further illustrate and clarify the above and other aspects, advantages and features of the present invention. It will be appreciated that these drawings depict only preferred embodiments of the invention and are not intended to limit its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of a basketball system;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a portion of an exemplary embodiment of a basketball system, illustrating a lower portion of the basketball system;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a portion of another exemplary embodiment of a basketball system, illustrating a lower portion of the basketball system;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a portion of still another exemplary embodiment of a basketball system, illustrating a lower portion of the basketball system;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a portion of yet another exemplary embodiment of a basketball system, illustrating a lower portion of the basketball system; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a portion of a further exemplary embodiment of a basketball system, illustrating a lower portion of the basketball system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is generally directed towards a basketball system. The principles of the present invention, however, are not limited to basketball system. It will be understood that, in light of the present disclosure, the basketball system disclosed herein can be successfully used in connection with other types of sports and/or systems.

Additionally, to assist in the description of the basketball system, words such as top, bottom, front, rear, right and left may be used to describe the accompanying figures. It will be appreciated, however, that the basketball system can be located in a variety of desired positions and configurations. A detailed description of the basketball system now follows.

As shown in FIG. 1, an exemplary basketball system 10 includes a support member 12, such as a support pole or post. A basketball goal 14 may be connected to the support member 12 and the support member may be sized and configured to support the basketball goal above a playing surface. The support member 12 preferably has a generally elongated configuration; however the support member may have a variety of other suitable configurations.

As shown in FIG. 1, the basketball goal 14 preferably includes a backboard 16, a rim 18 and a net 20. The rim 18 may be secured in a generally fixed configuration relative to the backboard 16, or the rim may have a displaceable or “break away” configuration. The backboard 16 may be constructed of plastic, metal, glass or other suitable materials. If the backboard is constructed from plastic, it may be formed using a blow molding process, an injection molding process or other suitable processes. Of course, if the backboard is constructed from other materials, it may be formed using other appropriate processes and methods. Although the backboard 16 shown in the accompanying figures has a rectangular configuration, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the backboard may have a variety of suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements.

The support member 12 is preferably sized and configured to support the basketball goal 14 at one or more heights above a playing surface. In particular, the support member 12 may be configured to support the rim 18 at the standard, regulation height of ten feet above the playing surface for playing basketball. The support member 12 may also be configured to support the rim 18 at higher and/or lower heights. For example, the support member 12 may be configured to support the rim 18 at a lower height to accommodate children that may lack the ability to shoot at a regulation height rim. The basketball system 10 may also include a height adjustment mechanism that allows the height of the basketball goal 14 to be changed.

The support member 12 is also preferably constructed from a relatively strong and rigid material, such as metal or steel. The support member 12 is preferably a hollow, generally tubular member with a circular or square cross-section, but one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the support member can be constructed from other materials and/or have other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10.

The basketball system 10 may also be sized and configured to be connected to a support surface or structure. For example, the support member 12 may include a first portion connected to the basketball goal 14 and a second portion connected to a base 22 that is sized and configured to be connected to the support surface or structure. In particular, the base 22 may be sized and configured to be connected to a concrete mounting block or other suitable structure. The base 22 is preferably constructed of a relatively durable material, such as metal, but other materials having suitable characteristics may also be used.

As shown in the accompanying figures, the base 22 may include one or more plates. For instance, as shown in FIG. 2, the base 22 may include a first plate 24 that is connected to the lower end of the support member 12. The first plate 24 is preferably securely connected to the support member 12 by welding, but the plate may be connected to the support member by fasteners (such as bolts, screws, etc.), adhesives and the like. The first plate 24 may then be connected to the support surface or structure. The base 22 may also include a second plate 26, if desired, or the second plate could be part of the support surface or structure. The first plate 24 may be connected to the second plate 26 by fasteners (such as bolts, screws, etc.), adhesives and the like. The plates 24, 26 may be separate components that are interconnected or the plates may be part of a unitary, one-piece structure, if desired. Additionally, while the base 22 is preferably a separate component from the support member 12, the base and the support member may also be part of a unitary, one-piece structure. It will be understood that the base 22 could include any suitable number of components, such as any number of plates, and the base could be attached to any desired portion of the basketball system 10.

The first plate 24 is preferably connected to the second plate 26 by fasteners, such as bolts, and the second plate 26 is also preferably connected to the support surface or structure by fasteners. Advantageously, the fasteners may allow the orientation and/or positioning of the basketball system 10 to be readily changed. The basketball system 10 may also include other features and aspects, such as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,783,472, entitled FLEXURE RESISTANT BASE PLATE FOR A BASKETBALL GOAL ASSEMBLY, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety. It will also be understood that the basketball system 10 may include other features and aspects, and be connected to a support surface or structure using a variety of suitable types of devices, mechanisms, structures and the like.

The basketball system 10 may also include one or more structures that are intended to reinforce and/or strengthen a portion of the system. In particular, the basketball system 10 may include a reinforcing structure that is sized and configured to reinforce the connection of the support member 12 to the base 22. As discussed in greater detail below, the reinforcing structure may include one or more reinforcing members, gussets, connecting portions, and the like.

An exemplary reinforcing structure is shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, and the reinforcing structure includes a first reinforcing member 28 and a second reinforcing structure 30. The reinforcing members 28, 30 are preferably sized and configured to increase the strength and/or rigidity of the connection between the support member 12 and the base 22. In addition, the reinforcing members 28, 30 may also reinforce and/or fortify the connection of the support member 12 and the base 22. The reinforcing members 28, 30 may help prevent or reduce cracking, bending and other damage to the support member 12 and/or the base 22. Advantageously, the reinforcing members 28, 30 may permit the support member 12 and/or the base 22 to be constructed from thinner materials, lighter weight materials, less expensive materials and the like. Significantly, this may allow the weight and cost of the basketball system 10 to be decreased.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the reinforcing members 28, 30 may be connected to the support member 12 and the base 22. The reinforcing members 28, 30 are preferably constructed of metal and connected to the support member 12 and the base 22 by welding. The reinforcing members 28, 30 could also be constructed from other suitable materials and connected using other appropriate types of structures, mechanisms, processes and the like. The reinforcing members 28, 30 could also be formed integrally with the support member 12 and/or the base 22, if desired.

The reinforcing members 28, 30 are preferably connected to the rear portions of the support member 12 and the base 22. For example, if the support member 12 has a generally square configuration, then the reinforcing member 28 may be disposed generally proximate one rear corner of the support member and the reinforcing member 30 may be disposed generally proximate the other rear corner of the support member. Desirably, the reinforcing members 28, 30 are disposed at an angle relative to the rear portions of the support member 12. It will be appreciated that the reinforcing members 28, 30 may also be disposed in other suitable positions relative to the support member 12 and the base 22 depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10 or the configuration of the support member 12.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the reinforcing members 28, 30 may include a first portion connected to the support member 12 and a second portion disposed away from the support member. In particular, the reinforcing members 28 may include a first portion that is sized and configured to be connected to the support member 12 and a second portion that is sized and configured to be connected to the base 22. It will be understood that the size, shape, configuration and arrangement of the reinforcing members 28, 30 may vary depending, for example, upon the configuration of the support member 12 and/or base 22.

The reinforcing members 28, 30 may also include an outer portion that is disposed away from the support member 12 and the base 22. The outer portion of the reinforcing members 28, 30 may include one or more edges. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, the outer portion of the reinforcing member 28 may include an edge 32 and the outer portion of the reinforcing member 30 may include an edge 34. The edges 32, 34 may be planar, angled, curvilinear, jagged, etc. Advantageously, the edges 32, 34 may be sized and configured to help increase the strength and/or rigidity of the connection between the support member 12 and the plate 24.

In greater detail, the reinforcing members 28, 30 may include a body portion 44, 46 and an extension 48, 50, respectively. The body portions 44, 46 preferably have a generally triangular-shaped configuration and the extensions 48, 50 preferably have a generally rectangular shaped configuration. The body portions 44, 46 are preferably include one portion that is connected to the support member 12 and another portion that is connected to the base 22. The extensions 48, 50 preferably extend upwardly and away from the base 22 and are connected to the support member 12. Thus, a larger contact area and/or area of attachment may be formed between the reinforcing members 28, 30 and the support member 12. This may facilitate a more secure connection between the reinforcing members 28, 30 and the support member 12. This may also help prevent the support member 12, the base 22 and/or the reinforcing members 28, 30 from being damaged when a force is applied to the basketball system 10. For example, this may spread the force over a larger area and/or help prevent stress concentrations from being formed. Thus, the reinforcing members 28, 30 may help increase the strength, rigidity, and/or flexibility of the connection between the support member 12 and the base 22. It will be appreciated that the reinforcing members 28, 30 may also have other suitable shapes, sizes, configuration and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10. Further, it will be appreciated that any suitable number of reinforcing members may be used depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10.

Another exemplary reinforcement structure is shown in FIG. 4. This exemplary reinforcement structure 52 includes a first reinforcement member or gusset 54 and a second reinforcement member or gusset 56. The gussets 54, 56 are preferably spaced apart from each other and have a generally triangle-shaped configuration. The gussets 54, 56 are preferably disposed proximate the rear corners of the support member 12 and at an angle relative to the base 22. It will be appreciated that the gussets 54, 56 could have other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10.

The reinforcement structure 52 may include an intermediate portion 58, which is preferably at least partially disposed between the gussets 54, 56. The intermediate portion 58 preferably has a generally rectangular configuration with an inner surface that is adapted to be secured to the outer surface of the support member 12. The intermediate portion 58 may be connected to the gussets 54, 56 and the intermediate portion 58 may be disposed between the gussets and the support member 12, if desired. It will also be appreciated that the intermediate portion 58 could have other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10.

In greater detail, the intermediate portion 58 may be disposed between at least a portion of the gussets 54, 56. Preferably, the intermediate portion 58 is substantially disposed between the gussets 54, 56. In addition, the intermediate portion 58 is preferably disposed between the gussets 54, 56 and the support member 12. Further, a portion of the intermediate portion 58 may extend beyond the upper portions of the gussets 54, 56. Advantageously, the intermediate portion 58 may provide a larger contact area and/or area of attachment may be formed between the gussets 54, 56 and the support member 12. This may facilitate a more secure connection between the gussets 54, 56 and the support member 12. This may also help prevent the support member 12, the base 22 and/or the gussets 54, 56 from being damaged when a force is applied to the basketball system 10. In particular, this may spread the force over a larger area and/or help prevent stress concentrations from being formed. Thus, the gussets 54, 56 and the intermediate portion 58 may help increase the strength and/or rigidity of the connection between the support member 12 and the base 22. It will be appreciated that the gussets 54, 56 and the intermediate portion 58 could have other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10. For example, the gussets 54, 56 and the intermediate portion 58 may have approximately the same height. On the other hand, the intermediate portion 58 may be larger or smaller than the gussets 54, 56. It will also be appreciated that the gussets 54, 56 and the intermediate portion 58 may be formed integrally as a one piece component or as separate components.

As shown in FIG. 5, the intermediate portion 58 does not have to be disposed between the gussets 54, 56 and the support member 12. In addition, the intermediate portion 58 can be spaced apart from the base 22. Further, the intermediate portion 58 does not have to span the entire area between the gussets 54, 56. In contrast, the intermediate portion 58 may be disposed between only a portion of the gussets 54, 56 and the intermediate portion may only be connected to a portion of the gussets. Preferably, the intermediate portion 58 is disposed near the upper portion of the gussets 54, 56 and it extends beyond the upper portion of the gussets to, for example, help prevent stress concentrations from being formed proximate the upper portions of the gussets. It will be understood that the intermediate portion 58 could be attached only to the gussets 54, 56 and/or the support member 12, if desired, and the gussets and the intermediate portion could have a variety of other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10.

Another exemplary reinforcement structure is shown in FIG. 6 and it includes a first reinforcement structure 60 and a second reinforcement structure 62. The first reinforcement structure 60 may include a first gusset 64 and a first extension 68, and the second reinforcement structure may include a second gusset 66 and a second extension 70. Similar to that discussed above, the gussets 64, 66 are preferably spaced apart, disposed proximate the rear portion of the support member 12, and disposed at an angle. The gussets 64, 66 preferably also have a generally triangle-shaped configuration. It will be appreciated that the gussets 64, 66 could have other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system

The extensions 68, 70 are also preferably spaced and include an inner surface that is adapted to be secured to or abut the outer surface of the support member 12. In addition, the extensions 68, 70 are preferably at least partially disposed between the gussets 54, 56. Further, the extensions 68, 70 preferably have a generally rectangular configuration and the extensions 68, 70 may be connected to the gussets 64, 66 and/or disposed between the gussets and the support member 12. It will be appreciated that the extensions 68, 70 could have other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10.

In greater detail, the extensions 68, 70 may be disposed between at least a portion of the gussets 64, 66. Preferably, at least a portion of the extensions 68, 70 is substantially disposed between the gussets 64, 66. In addition, at least a portion of the extensions 68, 70 is preferably disposed between the gussets 64, 66 and the support member 12. Further, a portion of the extensions 68, 70 preferably extends beyond the upper portions of the gussets 64, 66. Advantageously, the extensions 68, 70 may provide a larger contact area and/or area of attachment may be formed between the gussets 64, 66 and the support member 12. This may facilitate a more secure connection between the gussets 64, 66 and the support member 12. This may also help prevent the support member 12, the base 22 and/or the gussets 64, 66 from being damaged when a force is applied to the basketball system 10. In particular, this may spread the force over a larger area and/or help prevent stress concentrations from being formed. Thus, the gussets 64, 66 and the extensions 68, 70 may help increase the strength and/or rigidity of the connection between the support member 12 and the base 22. It will be appreciated that the gussets 64, 66 and the extensions 68, 70 could have other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10. For example, the gussets 64, 66 and the extensions 68, 70 may have approximately the same height. On the other hand, the extensions 68, 70 may be larger or smaller than the gussets 64, 66. It will also be appreciated that the gussets 64, 66 and the extensions 68, 70 may be formed integrally as a one piece component or as separate components.

Preferably, the extensions 68, 70 are disposed near the upper portions of the gussets 64, 66 and the extensions extend beyond the upper portion of the gussets to, for example, help prevent stress concentrations from being formed proximate the upper portions of the gussets. It will be understood that the extensions 68, 70 could be attached only to the gussets 64, 66 and/or the support member 12, if desired, and the gussets and the extensions could have a variety of other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10.

Advantageously, the reinforcing structures 60, 62 may help increase the strength, rigidity, and/or flexibility of the connection between the support member 12 and the base 12. The extensions 68, 70 may be connected to and/or extend along all or at least a portion of the height of the gussets 64, 66. The extensions 68, 70 may also extend towards each other and span at least a portion of the space between the gussets 64, 66. Of course, the extensions 68, 70 and the gussets 64, 66 may have a variety of other suitable shapes and/or configurations.

As shown in the accompanying figures, the reinforcement structures may have a variety of suitable configurations. In addition, the reinforcement structures may be connected to the support member 12 and/or the base 22. It will be appreciated that while exemplary embodiments of the reinforcement structures have been described in detail above, the reinforcement structures may have other suitable other suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10.

Although this invention has been described in terms of certain preferred embodiments, other embodiments apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art are also within the scope of this invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is intended to be defined only by the claims which follow.